BT TV review
By Dan Howdle | Thursday, February 13th 2020
BT TV offers a convenient way to bolt a TV service onto a BT broadband package. It is not available as a standalone TV service, but does offer several benefits for anyone happy to sign up to both. But is it actually any good?
|Number of channels||Up to 189|
|Can bundle with broadband?||Required|
|Prices from||£24.99 per month|
BT’s TV offering has its foundation in the Freeview channels. From there, you can add on various extras at each package level, from Kids to Sky Sports and Sky Cinema. For an in-depth review of each BT bundle, visit our guide on BT channels . If you just want to take a quick look, you can use the tool below.
BT Sport – BT Sport is the main draw for many customers considering taking BT TV. With a wealth of football coverage, including Champions League, Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup matches, BT Sport is a must for any football devotee and taking it as part of BT TV is the cheapest way to get it. It comes as standard with TV Starter + Sport or with BT TV Max, or alternatively you can choose to pay extra to bolt it on to the Entertainment or Classic options.
AMC – All packages come with American drama channel AMC - which is exclusive to BT. So if you are a fan of the likes of The Walking Dead and all its spin-offs, then it's worth signing up.
BT does not offer its own hardware, unlike Virgin Media or Sky. Instead it supplies customers with a YouView, YouView+ or Ultra HD YouView+ box. This enables you to watch all the channels that come with your chosen package. All the BT YouView boxes offer access to seven-day catch up and on demand services including iPlayer, All4, BT Player and the ITV Hub.
The more basic packages come with the equally basic YouView box, which has no recording facility, but does allow you to pause and rewind live TV. The middling TV packages come with a YouView+ box, which enables you to pause, rewind and record up to 300 hours of TV.
The premium package, BT Max, comes with the correspondingly premium Ultra HD YouView+ box, which can hold 600 hours of programmes. (Note that you will need to have a 4K TV in order to benefit from the 4K/UHD programming.)
Netflix and Amazon Prime
BT considers these independent streaming services as add-ons, meaning you can subscribe and pay for them through BT TV and watch them on the supplied set-top box. We say they don't really qualify as you could have either or both without the need for BT TV.
Sky Cinema and Sky Sports
You can add either or both of these to your BT TV package, but just as they are with any Sky package you'd care to choose, they are not cheap. Still, with Sky Cinema, having the option to add a decent movie service fills a hole BT TV is otherwise lacking. Sky Sports, meanwhile, in addition to BT Sport, ensures you never miss a goal, lap, 147 break, you name it. Love of sport is not cheap these days.
BT Extra Box (Multiroom)
If you want to be able to watch your BT TV subscription on TV in a second room, you can subscribe to BT Extra Box. For a small fee you will be supplied with a second YouView or YouView+ box. There is a slight caveat in that in order to watch BT TV content on a second box you will need a minimum download speed of 23Mbps from a BT Infinity connection, so the Extra Box facility is not available to standard/ADSL BT broadband customers.
BT TV and BT Sport apps
The BT TV app is free to all BT TV customers. It enables you to watch all your BT channels on your phone, tablet, computer or laptop wherever you are, and also set programmes to record at home while you are away. The BT Sport app works in the same way, enabling you watch all the BT Sport action on a device of your choice either at home or when you are out.
Packages and bundles
Bundles with broadband
You can only get BT TV in a bundle with BT broadband. It's not available on its own. There are currently five notably different BT broadband and TV bundles. They are:
- Starter + BT Sport – Aimed purely at customers just wanting to get their hands on BT Sport (it's included free), Starter comes with the basic YouView box – so only pausing and rewinding is an option – you can’t record. You also get 80 Freeview channels. Starter is available with either standard BT broadband or BT Infinity.
- Essential – Essential is only available to customers either taking standard broadband or to pre-existing BT broadband customers. It is largely the same as Starter, with 80 channels, but comes with a recordable YouView+ box. You can choose to bolt-on BT Sport for an extra fee.
- Classic – Classic is only available with BT Infinity and is ideal for anyone who just wants the ease of having all the 80 Freeview channels along with the ability to pause, rewind and record up to 300 hours of programmes on the YouView+ box. The US Drama channel AMC is included as standard, and you can bolt on BT Sport to this package if you want to.
- Entertainment – This is BT’s mid-level TV offering, also only available with BT Infinity packages. You will get a YouView+ box for pausing, rewinding and recording up to 300 hours of TV. All the 80 Freeview channels are included, and you also get an extra 19 ‘premium’ channels, including National Geographic and Gold. It costs an extra few quid per month on top of the Classic bundle, and you can choose to bolt on BT Sport.
- Max – Max is BT TV’s ultimate package. It comes with 142 channels in total, including 21 in HD, a range of kids channels including Nickelodeon and Disney, and access to BT Sport in 4K UHD. It is only available with BT Infinity. Customers will get a Youview+ UHD box that also doubles the recording time capability to 600 hours, which along with catch-up and on demand TV guarantees you should never miss you favourite shows again. The Max package offers everything there is – although you still won’t get Sky Atlantic.
TV on its own
You can't get BT TV without also signing up to BT Broadband, but if you're already a BT broadband customer you can add TV. Existing customers can add the Starter package at no charge, although you will have to still pay the upfront activation cost. It comes with the basic Youview box, letting you pause and rewind but not record. BT Sport can be added for a small fee each month. Alternatively you can add the Essential package, which comes with a recordable YouView+ box.
Our final verdict
- BT Sport is excellent
- Good set-top box on top packages
- All packages get AMC
- Channel count a long way short of Sky/Virgin
- Only Max package has 4K content
- Can't get it on its own
If you're an avid sports fan, BT TV could be for you. With sports coverage to rival that of Sky Sports, it’s worth serious consideration for football fans in particular. The Starter or Classic packages are ideal for anyone wanting to get a simple TV package without all the bells and whistles – and it's cheaper than buying your own YouView box.
For film fans, the decision is less easy. Although you can choose to bolt on Sky Cinema as part of your package, the only streaming service available through YouView is Netflix, so anyone hoping to get access Amazon Prime or NOW TV will be disappointed.
The Max package offers everything there is – although you still won’t get Sky Atlantic. It’s comparable in price to the Virgin Media Big bundle, which comes with 108Mbps broadband. The main reason to get BT TV is for BT Sport fans. For anyone else, unless you can't live without US drama channel AMC, which is exclusive to BT, a Freeview box will most likely do the job.