21st July 2021
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, or even the subscription-free satellite TV alternative, Freesat.
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 .
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 TV channels - including the BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 - plus more than 30 radio stations.
TV: All new TVs (those made since 2010) 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.
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.
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.