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Updated: 22 Dec 2021

What is Freesat?

Learn more about Freesat, the satellite TV service from the BBC and ITV, that offers hundreds of TV and radio channels without subscription.
Which?Editorial team
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Freesat is a digital satellite TV service from the BBC and ITV, offering even more free channels than are available on Freeview.

As with Freeview, there are no ongoing fees and you don't have to worry about a contract - but you'll need a dish fitted to your home to receive Freesat. While this can require an initial outlay, it may suit those who don't get the best reception with Freeview. You'll also need a Freesat set-top box - some of which allow you to pause and rewind live TV. But what else does Freesat offer, and is it the best option for your home? Read on to find out.

More interested in Freeview via a combined TV and broadband deal? Find out which companies have the happiest customers using our guide to the best TV and broadband providers.

What channels are available on Freesat?

While Freeview offers 70 TV channels, 15 HD channels, and more than 30 radio stations, Freesat trumps that by giving access to more than 200 options, with over 20 in HD.

Alongside the five main TV channels – BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – Freesat customers can access channels such as:

Entertainment: BBC Three, BBC Four, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, E4, More4, 5 USA, 5 +1
News: BBC News, BBC Parliament, Sky News, Russia Today (RT), Al Jazeera
Films: Film4, True Movies
Lifestyle: Food Network UK, Showcase TV, FilmOn.TV, Travel Channel
Kids': CBBC, CBeebies, CITV
Music: Vintage TV, The Vault, Magic

Freesat HD

Freesat HD has over 20 HD channels in total including BBC One HD, BBC Two HD, BBC News HD, ITV HD and Channel 5 HD.

To enjoy these channels you'll need a television with a Freesat HD tuner (also known as DVB-S2), or a compatible set-top box or PVR (personal video recorder). .

How do I get Freesat?

To receive Freesat you'll need an existing satellite dish on your house, or pay to have one installed. Many Freesat customers previously received their TV from Sky and so have a dish ready to go. Otherwise, it can cost around £100 for a dish installation.

Retailers of Freesat products have to offer a satellite installation service, including supply and set up of the dish – sometimes they'll give you a discount when you buy a Freesat product, so make sure you ask.

TVs with Freesat: Some TVs have built-in satellite tuners meaning they can receive either Freesat or even Freesat HD channels without needing a separate set-top box. You just need to connect the satellite cable to your TV and you're good to go. Discover Freesat HD capable televisions that have impressed our experts using our guide to the best Freesat HD TVs

Set-top box: You can buy a Freesat set-top box for around £80, although Freesat HD ones cost a bit more. Connect the box up to the satellite feed, and to your TV via an HDMI cable.

Freesat+ PVRs: Freesat+ allows you to record programmes, or pause live TV. PVRs with Freesat+ are available from around £190. To get the full experience, you should have two inputs (cables) from your satellite dish to your Freesat PVR.

Freesat from Sky: This is a subscription-free satellite TV service from Sky. It offers more than 240 channels and is a great option if you're an existing Sky customer who no longer wants to pay for TV. 

If you think you may be interested in a combined TV and broadband deal in future, it's worth keeping in mind that some of these require you to have Freeview, rather than Freesat.

What is Freetime?

Freetime is a TV guide that showcases great content to watch, allows you to easily dip into catch-up TV from the BBC, ITV and others, and wraps it all up in an easy to use interface.

Freetime was created by Freesat for set-top boxes and Freesat+ PVRs, but is now starting to become available on smart TVs, too. Interestingly, it can also be used with Freeview television as well as Freesat.

If you want catch-up TV but aren't interested in Freetime, you can buy certain Freesat+ and Freesat HD boxes with smart-TV features that give you access to apps for BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and other internet services. These includes devices from brands such as Manhattan, Humax and Sagemcom.