If you want a choice of educational and entertaining programming suitable for kids - big and small - then our guide to the best TV for kids will show what each provider has to offer.
Kids' TV from Freeview
Freeview is the cheapest way to get your TV channels and for a one-off payment you can get a set-top box which will give you access to approximately 50 channels.
Channels for children include CBBC, CBeebies and CITV which, between them, offer programmes suitable for kids from preschool age to pre-teens. There is also plenty of content offered on the regular channels, BBC and ITV, that is suitable for kids - especially after school and on Saturday mornings.
For teenagers, channels like 4Music, VIVA and E4 bring plenty of popular comedy, music and reality shows and, of course, there is plenty of content on the regular, non-kid specific channels perfect for entertaining a bored teen.
Kids' TV from Sky
Sky's (www.sky.com) Entertainment Extra and Entertainment Extra+ TV packages both carry a range of children's channels including the ever popular Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Boomerang, Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network. All Sky TV packages also feature the free-to-air kids' channels such as CBeebies, CBBC and CITV.
Older kids are covered too, with music, comedy and reality shows on the free-to-air channels: 4 Music and VIVA as well as plenty of teen-pleasing offerings from MTV, amazing documentaries on Discovery, great comedy from across the pond on Sky1 and tons of music channels (depending on your TV package).
You can select either Entertainment Extra or Entertainment Extra+ a.k.a.'The Family' bundle, which you can then enhance with additional channels such as Sky Movies or Sky Sports.
Sky also provides Catch Up TV as standard with all Sky TV packs when you have a compatible Sky+ box connected to your broadband router - however you can only watch content that is covered by your existing subscription.
A big plus for Sky is the Sky Go app which allows you to stream live TV or access a huge library of On Demand content from Sky at no extra cost. Great for entertaining the kids with Sky TV from your tablet, laptop or smartphone while away from home - but bear in mind Sky Go uses your mobile data allowance, so if you are not on an unlimited data package you may go over your data limit.
Kids' TV from Virgin Media
Virgin Media (www.virginmedia.com) has one of the widest selections of kids' channels, although the channels you get depend on the package you pick. The basic TV package (M - or the Starter Collection) only carries the usual free-to-air kids' channels: CBeebies, CBBC, and CITV, as well as VIVA, E4 and 4Music for older kids - no kid-friendly extra channels. However, the largest Virgin Media TV package TV XL carries all the free-to-air channels, PLUS a host of other channels suitable for kids of all ages including favourites Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel, the Cartoon Network and plenty of teen-friendly MTV channels for any older kids in the house.
If you don't need quite so many channels, Virgin Media's M+ and L packages carry a smaller collection of kids' channels for a lower monthly charge.
Alternatively, you can pay extra each month to add Baby TV or extra kids' channels to your existing TV package.
All Virgin TV packages include up to 3500 hours of on demand shows from the channels in your package so you can also access the kids shows you want, when you want.
When taken as part of a bundle: TV, fibre optic broadband and calls package, Virgin Media is extremely competitively priced, and of course, if is paramount to you then Virgin is hard to beat.
Kids' TV from BT
BT's (www.bt.com) YouView packages offer all of the usual free-to-air kids' channels, CBeebies, CBBC, CITV, VIVA and 4Music. However, BT TV also comes with the BT TV Player - its very own content library.
The BT Vision Player has over 5,500 shows available including plenty of your kids' favourites - all available without ad breaks, a big plus when it comes to children's shows.
Kids can watch their favourite shows from popular channels including Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Disney XD on Vision Kids, and older kids can explore a wealth of music videos on Vision Music.
BT Vision Player content is included in the price when you take one of BT's Unlimited TV packages, but you can also access the content on a pay per show basis if you are a TV Essential customer - though it's worth being aware that this can quickly add up and cost more per month than the larger package.
If you are a BT Infinity customer you can also add extra TV channels to your package - while these channels won't suit younger children, there is plenty on Comedy Central, MTV, Discovery and E to entertain the older ones.
Plus, BT TV customers have unlimited access to seven days of catch-up from across BBC iPlayer, ITV player, 4OD and Demand Five, all of which have a range of kids programming available to watch at a time convenient to you.
|TV Essentials + Unlimited Broadband and Weekend Calls||Big Easy||The Original + Broadband Lite + Talk Weekends||TalkTalk Plus TV, Broadband and Phone|
|Monthly cost £13.00 (for 12 months) 1st year cost: £197.95||Monthly cost £15.00 (for 12 months) 1st year cost: £150.00||Monthly cost £16.13 (for 12 months) 1st year cost: £150.51||Monthly cost £9.25 (for 6 months) 1st year cost: £166.50|
|Up To 17 Mb||Up To 50 Mb||Up To 17 Mb||Up To 16 Mb|
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|Channels 77||Channels 57||Channels 307||Channels 59|
Call Virgin Media on 0808 256 6147
Call Sky on 0808 163 1093
Call TalkTalk on 0808 252 0069
Kids' TV from TalkTalk
Like BT, TalkTalk (www.talktalk.co.uk) offers YouView TV with the usual kids' channels featuring in the line up: CBeebies, CITV, CBBC, VIVA and 4Music. The seven day catch up option means you can access your children's favourite shows at a time that suits you (or them).
TalkTalk TV customers looking to add extra children's channels can pay an additional monthly fee to add the Kids Boost to their package. The Kids Boost brings over a dozen extra child-friendly channels including Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel and Cartoon Network.
TalkTalk TV also offers a host of on demand content, including plenty of programmes suitable for kids.