YouView from BT combines Freeview channels, which come through your aerial in the normal way, with catch-up TV and a library of On Demand TV and film, which is downloaded via your BT broadband. The YouView box connects to the aerial and your router, brings it all together and lets you record, pause and rewind live TV and has a huge 500GB memory. Effectively for a small extra monthly cost it gives a BT customer Freeview Plus without having to buy the box and, depending on the level of package you take, some good extra TV, music, film and sport.
Deal alert Free £25 Sainsbury’s Gift Card for new customers ordering a BT Broadband or TV package >>> Broadband and Evening & Weekend Calls free for 6 months then £13 a month >>> More Broadband and Evening & Weekend Calls Half Price for 3 months then £18 a month Full details of the deals »
BT TV Starter Deal
£5 first 6 months then £18
Only £18 a month > £25 Sainsburys Gift Card > Free YouView Box (£49 set-up) > 16Mb Broadband – 10GB usage > Freeview, Catch-Up & On Demand > Eve & Weekend calls > Online only
Best Value Unlimited TV
£12.50 a month first 6 months
Then £25.50 a month. Unlimited TV > £25 Sainsburys Gift Card > 16Mb Broadband > YouView Box – Freeview, Catch-Up & On Demand > Eve/Weekend calls > Online only
TV Essential with Infinity
£23 a month £18 first 6 months
£18 a month first 6 months! > YouView Box > Superfast Broadband up to 38Mb with up to 40GB of downloads > YouView Box – Freeview, Catch-up > Evening & Weekend calls
Sky Sports on BT Vision
From £38 a month First year
Normal price £43 a month for 38Mb speeds, Eve & Weekend calls + Sky Sports 1 and 2 – must live in BT Infinity area. Vision+ Box – not a YouView package.
BT TV Packages
More about BT TV
YouView or BT Vision with Sport?
The regular BT digital TV service is YouView from BT, lots more detail below but in a nutshell this is a YouView box, which lets you pause, rewind and record any Freeview channels you can receive (including four in HD) and connects to your BT broadband to let you access their library of Catch Up and On Demand TV. However, on YouView you can't get Sky Sports and ESPN, so for anyone wanting those channels the other option is BT Vision+ with Sports, which is a Vision+ box - very similar to the YouView box but without the Freeview HD channels and some of the Catch Up - with the option to add Sky Sports 1, 2 or both and ESPN. Vision+ with Sport can only be taken with BT's superfast Infinity broadband, so you have to live in an Infinity area to get it - check on this page here.
You can read more about the difference between the two services on the BT site here.
YouView from BT
So what is YouView? It's a joint project between some of the biggest names in TV, including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, TalkTalk and BT, to take Freeview to the next level by making it easy to get Freeview channels, HD TV, catch-up and on-demand all in the same box. You can go out and buy a YouView box outright for around £300 but with a BT package you can get it for just a £49 activation fee and a small extra monthly fee, plus you get access to the BT Vision library of on demand TV and movies, either on a Pay As You Go basis or unlimited, depending on your choice of package.
TV Essential costs £5 a month and includes;
- The YouView box (for a £49 set-up fee)
- Pause, rewind and record live TV
- 7 day Catch Up TV from all the main players
- 4 Freeview channels in HD
- On Demand shows from 50p and movies from £3.50
TV Unlimited costs £12.50 a month and includes all of the above plus unlimited viewing of On Demand shows, including the Vision Film library. Vision Box Office movies are still payable from £3.50.
Here are the key features of YouView from BT...
The YouView box from BT is a Humax model with a 500GB hard drive - this is enough space for around 300 hours of regular TV or 120 hours of HD. The box also enables you to pause and rewind your live Freeview channels.
Catch-up TV is included with YouView in the shape of the BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5 - no more going to your computer to watch something you've missed in the last week. There are two welcome features to help you find what you want on catch-up too - the EPG or Electronic Programme Guide goes back 7 days on selected channels as well as forwards, so on those channels you can look back to see what you missed and select it for viewing (a bit like Virgin's TiVo service). In another nod to TiVo there is also a search function which lets you find the content you want by searching by title or by genre, so you don't need to specify a channel or player.
There are 4 HD channels available through YouView - BBC 1 HD, ITV 1 HD, Channel 4 HD and BBC HD. You need an HD TV to be able to watch HD content but the box comes supplied with an HDMI cable for connection.
Anyone familiar with BT Vision will know that BT have a library of TV and films in different genres - Vision TV (regular TV like drama, comedy and reality), Kids, Music, Sport and Film. As a YouView from BT customer you can access these on pay-per-view (if you opt for TV Essential) or watch as much as you like (TV Unlimited - although there are also pay-per-view movies which don't come included with this package).
More on how to get YouView from BT here.
Vision+ with Sport
One thing you can't get on the YouView from BT box is extra channels like Sky Sports and ESPN, which is where the Vision+ with Sport package comes in. It only works with the superfast BT Infinity broadband so you need to live in an area where Infinity is available and can be taken with Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports 2 or both together.
Like the YouView packages you select TV Essential or TV Unlimited, a broadband and calls option (Infinity starts at £18 a month) and then add thesports channel(s) you want. Here are the monthly fees for sport on BT;
- Sky Sports 1 - £15
- Sky Sports 2 - £15
- Sky Sports 1 and 2 - £20
- ESPN - included for no monthly fee, just a one-off £10 card fee
- Vision Sport (mainly older classic footage) - included
Using a different box - the Vision+ box, which has recently had a hard drive increase from 160GB to 500GB - the service works in a very similar way in that it combines Freeview channels with On Demand content via broadband. The main differences between YouView from BT and Vision+ with Sport are as follows;
- HD - no HD channels on Vision+ with Sport (HD movies can be rented)
- Catch-up - Only selected shows on Vision+ with Sports but, unlike YouView, no adverts
- EPG - no 7 days backwards EPG on Vision+ with Sport, only 7 days forwards
More on how to get Sport from BT here.
Why should I get BT Digital TV?
If BT broadband is right for you (you're already with BT or they have a package to suit you) then you're getting the YouView Box for a £49 one-off set-up fee - initially cheaper than buying a Freeview+ box or other PVR recorder. You'll pay more over the years of course through the monthly fee but you'll be getting the on demand content too.
More About BT
YouView from BT is easy to install, the lead from your rooftop aerial is plugged into the YouView Box to receive Freeview channels, then the box is connected to the Home Hub router supplied with your broadband package. BT offer an installation by engineer for an extra £60 for those who really don't want to do it themselves, but for most people it will present no problems at all. The box can record up to 300 hours of TV on the 500GB hard drive, and has twin tuners so you can record one programme while watching another. It is also HD ready with an HDMI output for connection to an HD TV set, as well as optical digital audio output, Scart, an Ethernet port and USB, composite and analogue stereo outputs to connect to your hi-fi.
History of BT Vision and YouView
British Telecom was privatised in 1884, around the time that cable TV was starting to develop in the UK (although broadband TV was still a long way off), but because BT already had a huge network of customers - virtually every household in Britain thanks to the monopoly they had on phone lines - they weren't allowed to provide a TV service as it was unfair on the competition. The ban was lifted in January 2001 but it wasn't until December 2006 that BT Vision was launched, with a national advertising campaign kicking in in May 2007. BT's aim was to recruit in the hundreds of thousands in 2007 and then to have 2-3 million users within 3 to 4 years, so how are they doing? Well, The Guardian reported in February 2008 that BT's figures for 2007 were just over 150,000, so a bit less than their target and around half of those customers were recruited in the run-up to Christmas with a free BT Vision box deal with BT broadband. IPTV Watch reported in May 2008 that BT had gained 94,000 subscribers in the first quarter of the year, so it's getting more popular even if it's taking longer than they hoped. As of September 2012 the figure was around 750,000 but with the introduction of YouView from BT we can expect that to grow as the offering has matured to include catch-up.