TV packages can vary in a lot of ways. There are different prices, different set top boxes… but what we really care about are the different channels. Every provider has its own approach to building TV packages, and that means you could miss out on getting your favourites if you pick the wrong one. Here’s a quick lowdown of what you can watch with each provider.
If you don’t fancy shelling out for a pay TV package, you’ll still be able to watch free-to-air channels with a set top box from Freeview, YouView, or Freesat. With Freeview and YouView you can watch over 70 channels, or with Freesat you’ll get 200. Both have a good range of all genres, including plenty of entertainment, radio, news, and a good number of HD channels.
Not sure which one to go for? Check out our Freeview vs Freesat vs YouView guide.
BT TV channels
Telly from BT (www.bt.com) uses a YouView box, so with its basic Starter package you’ll get all the free-to-air channels plus a few extras thrown in from BT, including BT Sport. Upgrading to Entertainment gets you more - including lots of entertainment and factual ones, as well as Eurosport - and Max gives you the most channels of all. And if that’s not enough, you can subscribe to ‘Bolt-ons,’ which give you bundles of the kinds of channels that you want. There are Bolt-ons for kids' TV, music, and HD channels, plus Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, and loads more.
Sky TV channels
Because it uses satellites rather than cables, Sky (www.sky.com) has a lot more channels in its basic TV package than other providers - a massive 300 or so. That’s all the free-to-air satellite channels, plus Sky’s exclusive ones, including Sky 1 and Sky Atlantic. You can get even more on top of that by adding extra channel packs, like kids' TV and HD channels. And of course, you can add Sky Cinema and Sky Sports to any Sky TV package.
Virgin Media TV channels
TV packages from Virgin Media (www.virginmedia.com) gain more channels as they go up in size. The smallest, Player TV, has pretty much just Freeview channels, then Mix TV adds on some Sky ones, lots more entertainment, and some music, News, and a bit of sport. The biggest of the lot, Full House, has around a whopping 240 channels. As well as all those, you can add premium channels - Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, international, or adult ones, for instance - to any package.
TalkTalk TV channels
TalkTalk (www.talktalk.co.uk) TV is nice and straightforward with only two packages: TV, which gives you basic free-to-view telly; or TV Plus, which includes a YouView+ box and 30-odd extra entertainment channels. If those aren’t enough, you can add bundles of channels with ‘TV Boosts.’ There are Boosts for entertainment, sport, kids, music, and world channels, and many more.