Freeview vs Freesat vs YouView

Freeview vs freesat vs Youview

At a glance, Freeview, Freesat and YouView look pretty similar; they all offer a set top box that delivers dozens of free-to-air TV channels and catch-up services without a subscription fee. Thing is, there are quite a few important differences between them. But which is the best choice for you?

Battle of the boxes

Freeview comes in many different forms; from a set top box, to a dinky little thing that barely even qualifies as a box, to a telly that already has it built in. Plenty of electronics manufacturers make them so you’ll be spoiled for choice. To get started with Freeview, simply hook it up to your aerial - and broadband, if you want to use smart TV - and you’re good to go.

Freesat is broadcast via satellite and boasts a lot of TV at a super low cost. That said, if you don’t already have a satellite dish, it can be a hassle getting one put in - not to mention, expensive. Still, it’s a good choice if you have bad TV signal in your area, or already have a satellite dish installed.

If you're a BT TV or TalkTalk TV subscriber, you'll get a free YouView box with various extras like entertainment channels, movies, and sports built in. It’s growing in popularity all the time, with over three million set-top boxes and digital devices across the country. But is it any good?

Let’s take a closer look at all three.

Cost

You can pick up a basic Freeview box, without recording functionality, for less than £20, making it the cheapest of the three. Alternatively, Freeview HD TVs start at around £170, and most of the big brand manufacturers make them.

Freesat and Freeview are similar on the cost-front, although you will end up paying more to get a satellite dish installed if you don’t already have one, which can be pricey - we’re talking around £80. A basic Freesat box by itself will likely set you back around £45, but if you’re feeling lavish, you can get the latest Freesat box with recording and OnDemand functionality for £179.

A standard YouView box can cost up to £125 to buy outright. You can get it free with BT or TalkTalk TV, but even then, though, you’ll be tied into monthly payments instead.

I guess you can’t have it all. Still, here's some current deals to see how they compare:

Best buy deals
  • TV Plus with Fast Broadband + TV Select
    No Price Rises!
    • Average speed* 11Mbps
    • £34.95 up-front costs
    • Pay as you go calls
    • Offer ends
    • £24.95 per month
    12 month contract
  • Starter + Broadband + Weekend Calls
    £40 BT Reward Card - see BT's website for further details
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 10Mbps
    • £69.99 up-front costs
    • Weekend calls inc.
    • Offer ends
    • £30.99 per month
    18 month contract
  • TV Plus with Faster Fibre + TV Select
    No Price Rises!
    • Average speed* 35Mbps
    • £34.95 up-front costs
    • Pay as you go calls
    • Offer ends
    • £30.50 per month
    18 month contract
  • Entertainment with BT Sport + Superfast Fibre + Weekend Calls
    £100 BT Reward Card - see BT's website for further details
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 50Mbps
    • £19.99 up-front costs
    • Weekend calls inc.
    • Offer ends
    • £44.99 per month
    18 month contract
  • TV Plus with Fast Broadband + TV Select and Sky Sports
    No Price Rises!
    • Average speed* 11Mbps
    • £34.95 up-front costs
    • Pay as you go calls
    • Offer ends
    • £58.95 per month
    12 month contract
  • Max 4K + Superfast Fibre + Weekend Calls
    £100 BT Reward Card - see BT's website for further details
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 50Mbps
    • £9.99 up-front costs
    • Weekend calls inc.
    • Offer ends
    • £53.99 per month
    18 month contract

*Average speeds are based on the download speeds of at least 50% of customers at peak time (8pm to 10pm). Speed can be affected by a range of technical and environmental factors. The speed you receive where you live may be lower than that listed above. You can check the estimated speed to your property prior to purchasing.

Verdict

Winner icon

Freeview takes this one.

Channels

Now to the important bit - how many channels can you get?

Freeview offers more than 70 channels of TV and radio. That said, YouView has the same number of channels, plus a lot more if you get it as part of a pay TV service from BT or TalkTalk. And there’s a huge list of those to choose from.

TalkTalk's Sky Cinema boost, for example, includes the most popular movie channels like Premiere, Disney, Thriller and hundreds of films live and on demand. And, if you’re after something for the kids, you can add on nine channels for kids’ TV and seven on demand too, including Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.

But in the end, if we’re talking quantity, Freesat comes out on top, with a whopping 200+ TV and radio channels for your eyes and ears to feast on .

Verdict

Winner icon

Freesat takes the trophy here.

HD

All three of our contenders recognise that viewers want to put their expensive TVs to good use, and watch their favourite shows in stunning HD - but how do they compare?

Well, YouView has 13 HD channels, Freesat offers 13, and Freeview boasts an impressive 15 HD channels each.
That said, by opting for YouView, you’ll access get bolt-ons from Sky TV and BT.

Verdict

Overal winner

Freeview and YouView take this one.

Recording

Freeview, Freesat and YouView all let you record, pause, and rewind live TV, as well as offer boxes that let you save between 500GB or 1TB of telly.

Verdict

Winner Icon.

This one’s a tie

On Demand

Nowadays, TV just isn’t TV without on demand or catch up. All three of our competitors offer catch up functionality, here’s how they fare:

  • Freeview: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Demand 5, All 4, UKTV Play and STV Player.
  • YouView: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5, STV Player, Milkshake, UKTV Play, S4C, Quest. Plus BBC and TalkTalk offer extra on demand options depending on your package.
  • Freesat: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5.

Verdict

Winner icon

It's all about YouView.

Usability

So, you’ve chosen your box. Next thing, how do you use it?

I mean, you don't want to spend precious viewing time cursing at a remote control, do you?

Freesat offers a seven-day catch up service called Freetime that lets you organise your recordings, as well as go back and watch the shows you’ve missed. It's simple enough to use, but it doesn’t come as standard; you will have to double check that the box you choose supports Freetime.

When it comes to Freeview, different manufacturers and TVs will have different interfaces for the service, so it’s difficult to give a straight answer on this one. What I can say though, is that it’s very easy to set-up.

Then there’s YouView. YouView prides itself on user-friendly, accessible features; catch-up is integrated into the TV guide, and it’s easy to switch on subtitles or audio descriptions. Plus, there’s an interactive zoom feature that makes the TV guide that much easier to read, along with audio feedback and a high contrast user interface.

In short, YouView trumps this one.

Verdict

Winner icon

YouView wins for usability.

Movies

Freeview alone doesn’t offer a lot of movies, although it is compatible with Smart TV services. So, if you have the right TV and broadband connection, you can access aps for Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Now TV, plus much more.

Freesat has the fewest movie services, although you can add on demand services like Netflix.

Meanwhile, a standalone YouView box lets you use Netflix, Now TV, and Prime Video to buy and rent movies. With BT TV, you’ll get all of those and BT Box Office, as well as the Sky Cinema bolt-on, and you can also add all of Sky's movie channels to a TalkTalk TV package at any time. If you’re with TalkTalk, you’ll get access to Sky Cinema; eleven dedicated movie channels and over 1,200 on demand movies.

This one's a no-brainer.

Verdict

Winner icon

YouView takes it.

Sport

Sorry sports fans, but you’re probably not going to be blown away by what our three contenders have to offer, here. That said, YouView goes some way in picking up the slack for the other two; TalkTalk TV, for example, lets you add on the full suite of Sky Sports channels as a Boost (the provider's fancy word for its add-ons). You can get BT Sport too .

Naturally, BT Sport is also available on YouView from BT TV, and a Sky Sports Bolt-on can be added and removed whenever you like.

Verdict

Winner icon

YouView scoops the trophy.

Overall Winner

Sure, Freesat may have the most channels, and Freeview might well be the kindest to your wallet, but in our mind, there’s only one clear winner, and that’s YouView. With an easy-to-user interface and a great range of HD channels, you’re bound to have a great TV experience. Plus, you can get loads of extra channels and hours of on demand extras if you get the box via a BT TV or TalkTalk TV package.

Overall winner

Winner icon

YouView.

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