YouView: Everything you need to know

ByKim Staples
YouView box

How do you get YouView? What’s the difference between getting it with BT and getting it with TalkTalk? Can you get it without broadband? What broadband speed do you need for it? Find out all this and more right here...

YouView was the brainchild of terrestrial broadcasters, BT (www.BT.com), TalkTalk (www.TalkTalk.co.uk), and telecoms company Arqiva. It's essentially a set top box you for your TV that combines two main things: over 70 channels of basic digital TV, and catch up and on demand services via a broadband connection. You can pause and rewind live TV, and if you splurge on a YouView+ box you can record programmes as well.

YouView is available either as a standalone box, or as part of a TV package from BT or TalkTalk, which give you access to even more channels. There's also the chance to save a bit of dough by including it in a bundle with phone and broadband.

One of YouView's best features is that it's incredibly user-friendly. Catch up, for instance, is integrated right into the TV guide - just scroll back in time to the episode you want to watch. You can browse programmes by genre or channel, or select the handy 'more episodes' button if you like what you just watched and fancy seeing more.

It's also got plenty of accessibility features to make it easier for everyone to use. There's a zoom on the TV guide, a high contrast colour scheme, easy access to subtitles, signed TV, audio descriptions, and an interface that has been optimised to work with screen reader apps on your smartphone.

What channels can I get?

A basic YouView box gets you over 70 digital TV channels, including BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, and lots of entertainment, news, and radio channels.

You'll also get catch up and on demand - if you hook it up to a broadband connection - from BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD, Demand 5, STV (Scotland only), UKTV, Quest, S4C, and the Now TV app.

Movie buff? YouView's got you covered as well. A monthly Sky Cinema Pass will give you unlimited access to Sky Movies, and you can subscribe to Now TV or Netflix too. Plus there are hundreds of movies to rent or buy through the Sky Store, including some of the latest blockbusters.

How do I get YouView?

You can get a YouView box on its own from most major electronics retailers such as John Lewis, Currys, or Argos - perfect if you don't want to be tied down to a contract, though the box itself can be a bit costly. Or, if you want even more channels and features, you can get it in a package from BT or TalkTalk.

For YouView alone, all you need is a YouView set top box, a TV, and an aerial socket - and a broadband connection if you want to watch catch up and on demand TV.

Your broadband will need a minimum download speed of 3Mb, but that's just for basic on demand - for anything else, such as HD programmes, it'll need to be even faster. TalkTalk Boosts require 5Mb, for instance, and BT Sport needs at least 6.5Mb. Besides, a faster speed will mean better service and less loading time.

And remember to think about your monthly download limit, if your broadband contract has one. An hour watching catch up TV will eat about 1GB of data - and that can easily add up if you're watching it every few nights. Look out for the slower speeds you get at peak times too, especially if your provider manages web traffic.

Not sure how fast your broadband speed is? Try our speed test and find out.

YouView with BT

BT offers three main options for TV with YouView, and they're all available as part of a bundle with phone, broadband, and mobile as well.

  • TV Starter includes a basic YouView box with over 70 channels, catch up and on demand, and BT Sport (as long as your broadband has a download speed of at least 6.5Mb).
  • TV Essential has all of the above, except with a YouView+ box so you can record your programmes as well.
  • TV Entertainment is the biggest TV package of all, with a YouView+ box, 20 extra entertainment channels, and BT Sport HD. It's only available with BT Infinity, so remember to check you can get a fibre optic connection in your area using our postcode checker.

BT TV deals

BT
BT
BT
TV Starter + Broadband Entertainment Plus + BT Infinity 1 Total Entertainment + Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls
Monthly cost £4.00 (for 12 months, then £19.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £104.95 Monthly cost £16.00 (for 12 months, then £31.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £258.95 Monthly cost £23.00 (for 12 months, then £47.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £352.95
Up To 17 Mb Up To 52 Mb Up To 52 Mb
Weekend calls inc. Weekend calls inc. Weekend calls inc.
Channels 84 Channels 110 Channels 119
Go
Call BT on 0800 783 5390
Mon to Sun 8am-6.30pm
Go
Call BT on 0800 783 5390
Mon to Sun 8am-6.30pm
Go
Call BT on 0800 783 5390
Mon to Sun 8am-6.30pm

Read more in our guide to BT TV.

Or take a look at exactly what you get in our complete guide to BT TV channels

YouView with TalkTalk

TalkTalk has two TV options:

  • Essentials TV comes with a YouView box with over 70 channels, catch up and on demand, and the free TV2Go app for your mobile or tablet.
  • Plus TV includes all of the above but with a YouView+ box and seven extra Sky entertainment channels.

You can also add 'Boosts.

Talk Talk TV Boosts

These are bundles of extra channels that are available on a monthly rolling basis. Examples of Boosts include Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, Sky entertainment channels, kids TV channels, dedicated music channels, Asian channels, and loads more.

One of the best things about TalkTalk TV is that these Boosts are really flexible. If you decide you don't want Sky Sports anymore, for example, then you can simply cancel those channels at any time. That way, you can continually shape your TV service so that you have the channels you really want, when you want them.

You can see a list of Boosts and find out more about them in our guide to TalkTalk TV Boosts.

TalkTalk deals

TalkTalk
TalkTalk
TalkTalk
TalkTalk
Essentials TV with Sky Cinema Plus TV Essentials TV + Fibre Medium Plus TV + Fibre Medium
Monthly cost £15.00 (for 6 months, then £22.50 for 12 months, then £25.00 thereafter) 1st year cost: £231.75 Monthly cost £20.00 (for 18 months, then £20.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £246.75 Monthly cost £12.50 (for 18 months, then £17.50 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £156.75 Monthly cost £25.00 (for 18 months, then £30.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £306.75
Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb Up To 38 Mb Up To 38 Mb
Eve & wknd calls inc. Day, eve & wknd calls inc. Eve & wknd calls inc. Day, eve & wknd calls inc.
Channels 88 Channels 83 Channels 76 Channels 83
Go
Call TalkTalk on 0800 049 7843
Mon to Thurs 8am-10pmFri to Sun 8am-9pm
Go
Call TalkTalk on 0800 049 7843
Mon to Thurs 8am-10pmFri to Sun 8am-9pm
Go
Call TalkTalk on 0800 049 7843
Mon to Thurs 8am-10pmFri to Sun 8am-9pm
Go
Call TalkTalk on 0800 049 7843
Mon to Thurs 8am-10pmFri to Sun 8am-9pm

Bear in mind that you can only get TalkTalk TV as part of a phone and broadband package - read more about it in our guide to TalkTalk TV.

Which is best: BT or TalkTalk TV?

Pros and cons

There are lots of advantages to a YouView box - it's widely available, simple to set up, and very user-friendly. It's an extremely easy way to use services like Netflix on your TV, and catch-up on shows you might have missed. Plus it's one of the only few ways you can get TV without a monthly subscription.  

That said, the box itself isn't cheap and a YouView+ box can cost up to £100 more than the cheaper recording-free model. There's less initial cost if you do get a subscription from BT or TalkTalk, as the YouView box is typically included with no upfront cost. Plus you can add loads of extra channels and on-demand material if you want more to watch.

Of course, YouView isn't for everyone. TV fans won't be happy with the number of live channels on offer - the 70 you get covers TV and radio, and pales in comparison to the vast range you can get with Sky (www.Sky.com) or Virgin Media (www.VirginMedia.com).

You'll also need to make sure your broadband connection is fast - and more importantly stable - enough to handle all that on demand streaming, and prepare for your data allowance to disappear if you've got a usage cap. 

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