Subscription-free TV: What’s what?

Posted on 4 September 2013
By Paige Gardiner
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With so many different ways to get subscription-free digital TV these days, even digital-savvy shoppers could be forgiven for getting a little confused with a range of Freeview and Freesat boxes on offer.

So which is the better option, Freeview or Freesat?

The only cost, aside from your TV, with Freeview and Freesat boxes are for the receiver (a digital TV antenna or a digital satellite dish).

Freeview now comes with 50 standard channels, over 24 radio channels and the UK’s top four HD TV channels: BBC One HD, BBC HD, ITV1 HD and Channel 4 HD. With newer Freeview boxes, you can also record your favourite TV with a Freeview plus TV recorder.

Basic Freeview boxes start at around £20, with Freeview HD boxes from £50, Freeview+ recorders from £130, and Freeview+ HD recorders from £150. But all new TVs now have a built in Freeview tuner, and most HD TVs also come with a Freeview HD tuner.

Freeview has an eight-day programme guide feature, with all Freeview+ offering more control over TV viewing with Series Links that record an entire series automatically.

Apple and Android mobile devices also feature an app for that allows you to browse the Freeview guide.

Freesat offers over 150 channels as standard, with six HD channels available: BBC1 HD, BBC2 HD, ITV HD, 4HD, NHK World HD and RT.

Samsung and Panasonic have a limited number of Freesat-equipped TVs, with boxes starting at around £35,Freesat HD boxes from £70 and Freesat+ HD recorders from £170.

Like Freeview, all Freesat+ recorders have twin tuners and automatic series recording and dish installation typically starts at £80.

Freesat HD receivers and TVs can connect via broadband to stream BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5.

While Freesat has more TV channels overall than Freeview there are some channels like Dave that don’t appear in Freesat’s line up.

Exactly which channels can be picked up by the boxes can also vary region to region, so by checking sites such as, you can find out what is available where you live.

But overall, there are no major differences between the two services, and as a relatively cheap option, many homes have both systems in their homes.

Don’t forget, you’ll need a TV Licence whichever digital TV option is for you!