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What is Freeview?

Learn more about Freeview - the affordable and convenient way to get digital TV.
Which?Editorial team
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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.

It's a great choice if you're on a budget and don't want to be tied into a subscription package, but lacks the choice of pay-TV services from Sky and Virgin Media

You can receive Freeview on a range of different devices, including video recorders. Several broadband providers also offer a Freeview service - they'll provide you with a PVR so you can pause and rewind live TV and, in some cases, record it too. Find out how the major providers compare using our guide to the best TV and broadband providers.

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 70 SD (standard definition) TV channels - including the BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 - plus more than 30 radio stations.

Freeview HD

Alongside the standard-definition networks, Freeview now offers 15 HD channels, including BBC One HD (to receive HD channels you will need Freeview HD equipment). Find the best PVR for you with our Freeview PVR reviews 

How can I get Freeview?

TV: All TVs made since 2010 have a built-in Freeview tuner, meaning you can access all the Freeview channels without needing extra equipment. 

Set-top box: Freeview boxes are available from around £30. 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 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. Some TVs have this facility, too.

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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 many smart TVs. 

Pay-TV – You can get a discounted or even free YouView box as part of a broadband and TV subscription with BT, Plusnet and TalkTalk. You pay an ongoing fee, but you also get more premium content.

What is Freeview Play?

Freeview Play is a connected TV service that combines catch-up TV on services such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4, 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.

Read more about the service, and watch our video walkthrough, in our full Freeview Play guide.