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TalkTalk TV review

By Phil Wilkinson-Jones
Monday, February 11th 2019
3.5/5

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.

Overview

Number of channels 131
Technology Internet
Can bundle with broadband? Required
Set-top box YouView
Prices from £21 per month

Channels

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 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 Living, Real Lives, Sky Sports News HQ, FOX, National Geographic, Comedy Central, MTV, Gold, History and Crime Investigation.

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Highlights

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.

Dave – With the number of premium channels around it’s easy to forget how good free-to-air TV can be. Dave may once have been best known as the home of old Top Gear repeats but now boasts an impressive line-up of original shows. Successes include Taskmaster, Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is Goodish and the return of Red Dwarf.

Set-top box

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.

talktalk youview box

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.

Add-ons

TV Select

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.

Entertainment

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.

Kids Boost

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.

Sky Cinema

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 pass.

Sky Sports

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.

BoxNation

The UK’s only 24/7 boxing channel, with live fights and documentaries.

Asian

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.

BT Sport

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.

Multi-room

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.

Compare all TalkTalk TV deals

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.

Compare TalkTalk TV and broadband bundles

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

The good

  • Value for money
  • Choice of add-ons
  • Record TV with YouView+ box

The bad

  • 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, if you already have TalkTalk broadband, it’s 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.

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