If you don’t want to pay a monthly subscription for your digital TV, you can get the basic channels, as well as HD channels, from Freeview for free.
Freeview is the cheapest way to get digital TV. After making a one-off payment for either a set-top box or TV with integrated Freeview, you'll have access to all the original terrestrial channels, plus dozens of new digital channels as well.
What is Freeview?
Freeview is the most common digital TV service in the UK. Freeview set-top boxes are available from most electronics retailers, and tuners are also included as standard in new TVs.
Freeview gives you up to 50 TV channels including BBC One, Two, Three and Four, ITV 1, 2, 3 and 4, Channel 4, Film4, E4, More4, Channel 5, 5 Star, 5 USA, Dave, Challenge and more. In addition, Freeview lets you listen to 24 digital radio stations through your TV.
High-definition (HD) channels, including BBC One HD, ITV HD and Channel 4 HD are available through Freeview, but you'll need a Freeview HD box and an HD TV - or a television with built-in Freeview HD - in order to watch them.
Freeview+ boxes cost more than standard Freeview, but offer many extra features. For example, you can pause and rewind live TV - so if you're interrupted in the middle of a show, you can pick up where you left off without missing a moment.
You can also record TV, either individual shows or whole series, and watch them when it's convenient for you. If your box supports it, and you have a home broadband connection, you can also access a range of on-demand TV through Freeview.
Catch-up services, such as BBC iPlayer, 4oD, ITV Player and Demand 5, are available and some manufacturers also offer access to video on demand (VOD) services like Netflix, or YouTube.
Why should I get Freeview?
Chances are you already have Freeview in some form. Tuners now come included in all TVs, and with the digital switchover long completed, most homes will have already picked up a set-top box.
Still, if you are looking to replace your TV tuner, or you're looking for a new set-top box on a budget, Freeview is a valid option. It's the cheapest digital TV service in the UK, with some boxes going for less than £20. It offers a decent range of channels - including the biggest from BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.
You can get a small number of HD channels by upgrading to a Freeview HD box, and if you want a bit more than the basics, you can get a Freeview+ box for TV recording and catch-up TV.
Freeview boxes are available from many different manufacturers, and can be bought from most electronics retailers. Remember to check what services they give you before buying one, as not all boxes offer the same things.
If you want to record TV, for example, you'll need to make sure you're buying Freeview+ and not just a regular Freeview box.