TV providers and services
What is Freeview?
Article 1 of 3
What is Freeview?
Learn more about Freeview - the affordable and convenient way to get digital TV.
Freeview is the name of the UK's digital terrestrial TV service, delivered to your home through an aerial. Available on TVs, set-top boxes and PVRs (personal video recorders), Freeview offers the UK's most popular TV and radio channels, accessible for a one-off payment.
Freeview is a great choice if you're on a budget and don't want to be tied into a subscription package, but it lacks the choice of pay-TV services from Sky and Virgin Media, or even the subscription-free satellite TV alternative, Freesat.
You can receive Freeview on a range of different devices, including video recorders.
Find the best PVR for you with our Freeview PVR reviews
What channels are available on Freeview?
Although Freeview offers fewer channels than satellite and cable, 95% of the nation's favourite programmes are available on it (according to BARB data). You get 60 TV channels - including the BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 - plus numerous radio stations.
You also get:
Entertainment: BBC Four, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, E4, More4, 5 USA, 5 +1, Dave
News: BBC News, BBC Parliament, Sky News, Russia Today, Al Jazeera
Lifestyle: QVC, Ideal World, Community Channel, Create and Craft
Children's: CBBC, CBeebies, CITV
Music: 4Music, Viva
Alongside the standard-definition networks, Freeview now offers 12 HD channels, including BBC One HD.
How can I get Freeview?
TV: All new TVs have a built-in Freeview tuner, meaning you can access all the Freeview channels without needing extra equipment. More expensive TVs have Freeview HD tuners, meaning you can get the HD networks listed above, too. Otherwise, you'll need a Freeview HD set-top box or PVR.
Set-top box: Freeview boxes are available from around £30, but Freeview HD ones cost a bit more. Connect the box to your rooftop aerial, and then to your TV via an HDMI cable. If the box has smart-TV features such as a BBC iPlayer app, you'll also need to connect it to your internet router.
PVR: The Freeview+ service allows you to record programmes to play back later, or pause live TV while you make a cup of tea. To get the service you'll need to buy a PVR with the Freeview+ logo. They're available from around £100.
What is YouView?
YouView boxes are similar to Freeview ones, but add the ability to use their built-in electronic programme guide (EPG) to browse back over programmes you might have missed, and then catch-up on them using on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer and ITV Player.
You also get PVR functionality so you can record live TV programmes, and access to other on-demand apps such as Sky's Now TV, offering Sky Sports and Sky Movies for a fee.
To get YouView, you have two options available:
Free-TV – Pay the one-off cost for a YouView PVR and you get the full experience without an ongoing subscription fee. Boxes are available from around £150. YouView is also available as a built-in TV guide on selected 2015 Sony smart TVs.
Pay-TV – You can get a discounted or even free YouView box as part of a BT or TalkTalk TV subscription. You pay an ongoing fee, but you do get more premium content.
What is Freeview Play?
Freeview Play is a new connected TV service that combines catch-up TV on services such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and Channel 4 On Demand, with live television. You'll be able to browse forward on the TV guide to see what’s coming up, or whizz back to watch programmes you’ve missed.
Freeview Play comes with 2015 Panasonic smart TVs, but will later expand to other manufacturers and products, including set-top boxes. We'll soon be testing the first Freeview Play products to bring you the definitive Which? verdict on its usability and features.
Read more about the service, and watch our video walkthrough, in our full Freeview Play guide.