TalkTalk TV review
By Dan Howdle | Friday, February 14th 2020
TalkTalk’s big selling point for TV is flexibility. You can pick and mix TV services each month without committing to lengthy contracts. But before you read any further, it’s important to note that TalkTalk TV is not a standalone product. It’s only available to households with TalkTalk broadband. That said, let's take a look.
|Number of channels||Up to 141|
|Can bundle with broadband?||Required|
|Prices from||£35.95 per month|
TalkTalk TV’s basic TV offering is a YouView box with up to 80 Freeview channels, including 15 in HD. Freeview channels are subject to location. TalkTalk’s TV packages are called TV Boosts and you can pick and choose these on a monthly basis.
There are a number of different Boosts: TV Select, Entertainment, Kids, Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, BoxNation, Asian TV and BT Sport.
All Boosts come with one-month rolling contracts. Once added, you'll continue to receive the Boost until you cancel it. You can add TV Boosts using either your TV remote control or your online account. Channel availability will depend on where you live, how fast your broadband is where you live, and the quality of your TV aerial reception.
The basic TalkTalk TV Box comes with the TV Select boost included. This includes Sky 1, Sky 2, Sky Arts, Sky Witness, Sky Living, Real Lives, Sky Sports News HQ, FOX, National Geographic, Comedy Central, MTV, Gold, History, Crime Investigation and a number of others.
Sky One – Sky One is one of the channels included in the TV Select Boost. Much of Sky’s premium content is now shown on Sky Atlantic, which you can’t get on TalkTalk TV. But Sky One remains one of the UK’s most popular channels with a mix of entertainment, drama and comedy from the UK and the US.
Syfy – Syfy Channel has long been creating its own sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal dramas, and they've been becoming bigger in budged and audacity over the years until the present day where it can be said that some of the compete with some of the most lavish series from Netflix of Amazon. There's a lot of great stuff to watch on Syfy from Happy to Van Helsing, Krypton, The Magicians and more.
YouView and YouView+
TalkTalk TV offers two different YouView set-top boxes. YouView was the brainchild of BT, TalkTalk and telecoms company Arqiva. You can get a YouView box from BT or TalkTalk or buy one as a standalone product.
Buying a box on its own gets you all the Freeview channels available in your area. Hooking it up to the internet gives you access to catch-up and on-demand services. Buying a YouView box as part of a bundle with TalkTalk or BT allows you to add more channels. To do so you’ll need to connect your box to the internet and your TV aerial.
You can pause and rewind live TV for up to 30 minutes. There’s access to about 80 Freeview channels and seven-day catch up on some channels for certain programmes. There's also on-demand content from the likes of iPlayer, ITV Player, All4 and Netflix (if you subscribe). And you can access TV Boosts.
The big downside of the basic box is that you can’t record TV. And pausing and rewinding TV is limited to 30 minutes. (Bear in mind that not all programmes will be on catch-up.)
With the YouView+ box, you can pause and rewind live TV for up to two hours and record TV. It has a 300GB hard drive, which lets you store up to 185 hours of live TV in standard definition. This is plenty although it might sound low compared to other set-top boxes, most of which have 1TB (1,000GB) of storage or more.
A selection of 15 popular channels that, added to the Freeview channels, will give you a decent selection of things to watch. There’s general entertainment from the likes of Sky One, comedy on Gold and Comedy Central and a bit of culture on Sky Arts.
The Entertainment boost contains the same 15 channels you get with TV Select, plus 15 more. Also included are the likes of E!, W and H2. There’s even a few channels with more than one letter in the name, like Alibi, Lifetime and SyFy.
You can add the Kids boost for an extra few quid a month. It comes with 10 channels to keep the little ones entertained. These are NickJr, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Cartoonito, NickToons, Disney XD, Boomerang and Baby TV.
Thousands of films available to watch on demand, 11 live channels and a premiere every day. TalkTalk TV customers pay quite a bit more than Sky TV customers for Sky Cinema. So while you do get a lot of movies for your money, you may be better off getting a NOW TV Sky Cinema Membership.
Eight Sky Sports channels including dedicated homes for cricket, football, F1, golf and of course the Premier League. Again, you’ll pay far more for Sky Sports as a TalkTalk TV customer than a Sky TV customer would, so consider NOW TV.
The UK’s only 24/7 boxing channel, with live fights and documentaries.
More limited than Sky’s or Virgin’s selection of Asian TV channels. This add-on includes Zee TV, Z Cinema, Sony Entertainment Television and Sony Max.
Once again, considerably more expensive than getting BT Sport as a BT TV customer. But unlike Sky Sports (via NOW TV), BT Sport isn’t available as a standalone thing. If you want to watch the Champions League through your TalkTalk box, you'll need this add-on.
For an additional one-off fee, TalkTalk will give you a second set-top box so you can enjoy TalkTalk TV in two rooms. Through your second box you’ll be able to access everything you can with your first, including any TV Boosts you’ve added to your package. You’ll need to call TalkTalk to add multi-room and they'll send an engineer round to install it.
Packages and bundles
Bundles with broadband
Put simply, bundle customers have the choice of two different types of broadband and two different set-top boxes. This results in four different options.
The type of set-top box you choose will determine how much you pay upfront and which TV Boost is included as standard. Once you’ve paid for the box, both Fast Broadband (ADSL) bundles cost the same, as do both fibre deals.
You don’t have to go for one of TalkTalk’s standard bundles – you can create your own package. This option lets you add a TV box or TV Plus Box, and TV Boosts, as well as TalkTalk’s Faster Fibre Speed Boost, which offers download speeds averaging 63Mbps.
You can also add UK/international calls packages and extra online security to create your perfect package.
TV on its own
You can’t get TalkTalk TV on its own. You can bundle it in with TalkTalk broadband, as we’ve just described. Or you can add it on if you’re already a TalkTalk broadband customer.
Our final verdict
- Value for money
- Choice of add-ons
- Record TV with YouView+ box
- Far fewer channels than Sky or Virgin
- Sky Sports and Sky Cinema add-ons are pricey
- Only available with broadband
TalkTalk has something of a chequered past. A cyber attack in 2015 saw TalkTalk come under fire from customers angry their data had been stolen. December 2016 saw TalkTalk routers infected with malware, leaving thousands of customers without internet access. These issues meant lots of unhappy customers and, according to Ofcom, TalkTalk was the most complained-about broadband firm in 2017.
Saying that, these problems are a long way behind TalkTalk now. If you already have TalkTalk broadband, it’s definitely worth investigating its TV deals as you can get started by buying a box. But while its entry-level TV deals are easily affordable, and the Boosts are flexible, the costs can add up quickly.