BT TV deals – what you need to know
By Phil Wilkinson-Jones | Friday, May 17th 2019
In this guide
BT, the UK’s biggest broadband provider, has also ramped up its TV offering in the past few years in an attempt to create a service to rival Sky and Virgin Media. The European football rights snapped up by BT Sport and the addition of exclusive channels such as AMC have helped enormously, but what else does BT TV have to offer?
We’ll take a look at the various BT TV packages available, what channels are included and even take a peek at the pay TV alternatives. And we’ll say right now that BT TV is only available with BT broadband.
What does BT TV offer?
There’s plenty to be said for BT TV these days, including a good number of optional extras as well as the features included in BT’s standard TV bundles.
- YouView box – Each BT TV package comes with a version of BT’s YouView set top box. There are three – one that can pause and rewind live TV but not record, one that also records up to 300 hours of TV, and a 4K box that allows you to watch in Ultra HD.
- BT Sport – The jewel in BT TV’s crown, BT Sport features live Champions League football making it an attractive proposition for football fans. We’ll look at this in more detail in the BT Sport section further down the page.
- AMC UK – The AMC UK channel, from the US network behind Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Fear the Walking Dead, is available exclusively on BT TV
- Sky Sports – Like most TV providers, BT gives you the chance to add Sky Sports to your TV package. It’s not the full package – you only get Sky Sports Main Event and a channel unique to BT called Sky Sports Extra – although you do get all of the Premier League games that are being broadcast by Sky Sports.
- Sky Cinema – Sky Cinema is something else you can add to your package. If you have standard BT broadband you get access to more than a thousand movies on demand. With BT fibre you also get the 11 live Sky Cinema channels.
- Netflix – You can watch Netflix through your BT YouView box, although of course you’ll need a Netflix subscription to do so.
- Kids TV – For customers with BT fibre, the BT TV Kids add-on gives you nine additional kids channels and thousands of shows on demand. If you have standard broadband, you get the on demand shows but not the channels.
- BT TV Store – The BT TV Store allows BT TV customers to buy or rent movies, including new releases, and TV box sets. Hit the BT Player button on your remote, buy or rent the film or box set you want and it’ll soon be ready to watch on your YouView box.
- Reward cards – BT’s TV and broadband deals often come with reward cards – basically prepaid Mastercards that can be spent pretty much anywhere on the high street or online.
- Amazon Prime Video – BT was the first subscription TV provider to make Amazon Prime Video available to watch via its set top box. As with Netflix, you’ll need a separate subscription in order to access the app.
- BT TV Music – This is an unusual add-on that lets you listen to albums and watch music videos and live performances through your set top box. It could be good for parties as you can create playlists and there’s a karaoke feature.
- BT TV App Extra – This is BT’s multiroom solution. With the app you can watch BT TV on your smartphone, tablet, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast, Apple TV or Amazon Fire device.
BT TV packages
BT has a range of TV packages, some of which are only available with standard BT broadband. Others are only available with BT fibre. Here, we’ll break down exactly what is included in each package, what broadband you need for each one, and the extras you can add to it.
With all packages, you get seven days of catch-up TV from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, through your TV guide. And you can access the BT TV Store to buy and rent films and box sets. All of the following come with 18-month contracts.
Available with either standard or fibre broadband, BT TV Starter comes with a basic YouView box that lets you pause and rewind live TV but not record programmes. You get 80 Freeview channels including up to 15 in HD, radio channels and BT Sport in standard definition.
You can add Netflix, Prime Video, Kids, Sky Cinema and Music. And if you’ve got BT fibre broadband you can also add BT Sport in HD and Sky Sports. Fibre customers can also add an extra non-recordable set-top box to use in another room, although you can’t watch Sky Cinema and Sky Sports through the additional box.
BT Essential TV is only available with standard BT broadband and comes with 80 Freeview channels including up to 15 HD channels, and radio channels plus BT Sport in standard definition. What makes it different from Starter is that you get a better YouView box – one that records as well as pauses and rewinds live TV.
You can choose to add Netflix, Prime Video, Sky Cinema, Kids and Music to the Essential TV package.
BT’s Classic TV package is very much like the Essential package but is only available with BT fibre broadband. It comes with a recordable YouView box and you get 80 Freeview channels including up to 15 in HD and radio channels.
You get BT Sport in standard definition but can add BT Sport in HD as an add-on. You can also choose to add Netflix, Prime Video, Sky Cinema, Kids and Music.
Only available with fibre broadband, the Entertainment TV package comes with premium entertainment channels including Gold and National Geographic as well as the 80 Freeview channels and radio channels included in lower packages. You also get the recordable YouView set top box and BT Sport in standard definition.
There’s the option to add Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Music, Kids, Sky Cinema or Sky Sports, as well as to add BT Sport in HD.
The biggest and the best of BT’s TV packages is Max 4K which, as the name suggests, comes with a recordable 4K YouView box with 80 Freeview channels, up to 15 in HD, and radio channels as well as a load of premium channels and their HD versions. You also get the BT Sport and AMC channels in HD as standard, as well as the BT Sport Ultra HD channel.
You can add Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Music, Kids, Sky Cinema or Sky Sports for an even bigger channel line-up. Max 4K is only available with BT fibre broadband.
When we talk about BT Sport we’re usually referring to the BT Sport Pack, which is the full line-up of BT Sport channels that you can watch on your TV. They are BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, BT Sport 3, BT Sport ESPN and BoxNatin. If you get BT Sport in HD then you’ll get the HD versions – BT Sport 1HD, BT Sport 2HD, BT Sport 3HD, BT Sport ESPN HD and BoxNation HD.
BT Sport has the exclusive rights to Champions League and Europa League games so across those channels will be broadcast 351 live matches from UEFA’s two club competitions each season. BT Sport also shows 52 live Premier League games a season as well as up to 30 FA Cup matches.
It’s not just about football, as BT Sport shows at least 69 Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches each season, plus live coverage of the Heineken Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup. There’s live coverage of all 26 stages of the FIA World Rally Championship plus every MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 race, warm-up and practice session.
BT Sport has all of Tyson Fury’s fights, plus plenty more from Frank Warren’s stable of boxers on Fight Night, while there’s World, European, British and Commonwealth championship fights on BoxNation and all the main UFC events.
BT Sport in 4K
If you have the Max 4K TV package and a 4K-ready TV then you’ll be able to enjoy live coverage of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League football, Gallagher Premiership Rugby and MotoGP in up to four times the detail of HD.
The Starter, Classic and Essential packages are made up of 80 Freeview channels, including BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News, BBC Alba, ITV, ITV2, ITV 3, ITV 4, ITV Be, Channel 4, More 4, E4, Film 4, 4 Music, Channel 5, Five Star, FIVE USA, S4C, Challenge, QVC, Aljazeera, Sky News, Pick, Really, Quest, Yesterday, Dave and a number of +1 and HD versions of those channels. You also get the BT Sport Pack and AMC.
With the Entertainment pack you also get Alibi, Animal Planet, Crime & Investigation, Comedy Central, Comedy Central Extra, Discovery Channel, E!, Eurosport, Eurosport 2, H2, History, ID, Lifetime, MTV, MTV Music, Movies 24, Nat Geo Wild, National Geographic, Sony Entertainment TV, Syfy, TLC, Universal Channel, Watch, Eden, Good Food, Home and Gold.
The Max 4K package comes with all of the channels listed above plus HD versions of the premium entertainment channels and BT Sport in 4K.
You can find information on the on-demand TV available via BT TV, and other providers, in our on demand TV guide. And there’s more information on BT’s telly channels on our dedicated BT TV channels guide.
What are the alternatives?
If you’re not completely sold on BT or are still wondering how it stacks up against its competitors, here’s a quick run down of the other runners and riders in the pay TV market.
- Sky – Sky’s basic TV package, Sky Entertainment, offers hundreds of channels including Sky Atlantic. It comes with a Sky Q box, which lets you record three channels while watching a fourth and stores up to 500 hours of TV. Things like Sky Sports, Sky Cinema and Netflix can be added as extras.
- Virgin Media – Virgin has a range of TV bundles. All of them come with the V6 box, which can record six channels while you watch a seventh from your recordings or an app. The top package, V.VIP, comes with two boxes and loads of channels including Sky Sports, BT Sport and Sky Cinema.
- NOW TV – NOW TV offers five different passes – Entertainment, Kids, Sky Cinema, Sky Sports and Hayu – that last a month and can be cancelled at any time. Sky Sports is also available as a day or week pass.
- TalkTalk – Like BT, TalkTalk’s TV offering is based around the YouView platform and is mostly made up of free-to-air channels. There’s two versions of the set top box – one that records and one that doesn’t – and you can add various ‘boosts’ to get more channels.
- EE – EE TV is made up of free-to-air channels plus a load of on demand TV services. Plus you get a set top box that can record up to 600 hours of TV and constantly record up to eight of your favourite channels.
- Plusnet – Plusnet TV is only available to existing Plusnet broadband customers and you can only order it over the phone. Like some of BT’s basic packages, you get Freeview channels, a recordable YouView box and seven-day catch-up TV plus access to apps including Netflix and iPlayer.
Frequently asked questions
Can you get Curzon Home Cinema on BT TV?
Yes, Curzon Home Cinema is available as part of the BT TV Store, which BT TV customers can find by pressing the BT Player button on their remote.
Can I get BT TV where I live?
How do I claim my BT reward card?
Once your broadband is up and running, visit BT’s reward claim page. You’ll have to answer a few questions and fill in a form using your BT ID. It may take up to 45 days for the card to arrive and when it does you’ll need to follow the instructions to activate it.
If the reward card doesn’t arrive within 45 days of claiming it, you can get in touch with BT via this BT contact form
How is BT TV different to Freeview?
The basic BT TV packages consist largely of Freeview channels but there’s much more besides, including BT Sport and the AMC channel. They also come with a set top box that can pause and rewind live TV. The Entertainment and Max packages also feature plenty of premium channels not available on Freeview.