Virgin Media vs Sky vs BT vs TalkTalk
Virgin Media – Virgin Media is UK’s only cable TV platform which was established in 2006 with the merger of NTL and Telewest. Virgin Media provides you with a broad selection of TV channels (+260) and a large amount of video on demand content, many of which include HD programming. Via its TiVo digital video recorder and advanced recommendation features, Virgin Media simplifies what to watch and when to watch. The TiVo DVR allows you to record up to three programmes simultaneously, pause and rewind live television.
Virgin Media cable TV subscribers also have the option to subscribe to Sky TV packages, including Sky Sports and Sky Movies.
Sky – Sky (BskyB) is UK largest satellite platform with 11 million paid TV subscribers. The Sky+ set-top box provides hundreds of satellite TV channels, on top of which additional packages are offered such as Sky Sports, Sky Movies and Sky Entertainment.
Over the years Sky has extended its platform with Sky Now TV and Sky Go. Both are Sky’s alternative to Netflix in the UK, offering movies as well as live TV streaming. The Sky Go application allows you to watch Sky TV on a smartphone, tablet or PC. Sky Now is also available on these devices but comes with the added benefit of its own Sky branded (Roku) box and doesn’t require a contract. Sky has recently announced their new platform Sky Q which will come available in 2016.
BT – BT is UK largest (fixed) telecom provider that delivers you broadband internet, TV and phone services. Its TV packages consist of up to 80 Freeview channels which can be bundled with a variety of paid-TV packages such as BT Sport, movies and kids. BT provides its TV service with a YouView set top box. Like Sky+ and TiVo, YouView+ allows you to record, pause and rewind live TV. The YouView box comes with a number of catch-up TV services such as the BBC iPlayer and ITV Player.
TalkTalk – TalkTalk provides a bundled broadband, TV and Home Phone product and similar to BT requires a YouView set top box. TalkTalk comes with up to 80 Freeview channels whereby video on demand content is delivered over IP. Additional packages can be bundled with the product to receive catch up tv, entertainment, sports and kids programming.
Freeview vs Freesat vs YouView
What is the difference between Freeview, Freesat, and YouView? All three can be purchased without the need to pay a monthly subscription fee.
Freeview provides 70+ channels of TV and radio and 12 HD channels. Freeview doesn’t offer a movie on demand service on its own, but it is compatible with Smart TV services. All you need is the right television and a broadband connection, and you can access apps for Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Now TV, and more. End of 2015 Freeview launched Freeview Play, a service similar to YouView that allows you to scroll back in your TV guide to watch shows you missed from the last 7 days.
Freesat is a subscription free satellite TV service that provides 200 channels of TV and radio. Freesat offers 11 HD channels and 38 radio stations. Freesat can be extended with its Freetime product, which is a smart TV Guide that provides you with catch up TV content from the previous 7 days on 26 channels. Additionally the box provides videos from BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4, Demand 5 and YouTube.
YouView provides access to free-to-air digital terrestrial television channels (similar to Freeview television platform) and to TV on demand (catch-up TV) services via a ‘hybrid’ set-top box. YouView has 14 HD channels, with the option to add additional packages via BT or TalkTalk. As part of a BT TV package, you can extend service with other entertainment packages. A TalkTalk TV package provides seven extra channels with the option to add additional packages.
What equipment do I need to receive Freeview digital TV?
Most new TV’s have a Freeview tuner build in, check if your television is labelled ‘Freeview HD’. In case you have an older TV, there are many Freeview set top boxes on the market including Freeview HD Recorders. Freeview channels are also part of the the YouView product, if it does not appear try retuning your Youview box. To use Freeview Play, you do require a Broadband internet connection.
To able to view the HD programmes in its full quality on Freeview, you will require a high definition television and a Freeview HD box.
Retuning Your Freeview Equipment
To get the most up to date service from Freeview it is important to retune from time to time. New channels are launched on Freeview regularly along with other updates to the service, so it recommended to retune your digital box or TV every couple of months to make sure you are up to date. Many digital boxes and TVs now prompt you to retune when a new service launches but if yours doesn’t it will have to be retuned manually. The process is straightforward but varies slightly between boxes from different manufacturers:
Step 1: Press menu on your box or TV remote control.
Step 2: Now select set-up, installation, update or similar option. If you’re asked for a password the default code is 1234 or 0000.
Step 3: Now select the ‘first time installation’ option (sometimes called ‘factory reset’, ‘full retune’ or ‘default settings’). Press ‘OK’ if your equipment asks if it is OK to delete existing channels.
Do I need a satellite dish on my home?
Free digital TV services like FreeView and YouView don’t require a satellite dish – all you need for these TV products is a set-top box or a compatible TV. However, digital satellite TV services such as Sky and Freesat do require a dish on your home. The dish is there to receive digital signals, which are then sent to a set-top box. The set top box decodes the signal for you to be able to watch it on TV.
There are different types of dishes, and different places where the dishes can be placed such as on the roof or on the side of your house. Your installer will be able to advise you on the best approach and can take care of the installation.
When was digital switchover in the United Kingdom
The digital switchover is the name given to the process by which analogue terrestrial television in the United Kingdom was replaced with digital terrestrial television. It is sometimes referred to as the “analogue switch off”.
In the United Kingdom, the terrestrial switchover started on 6 November 2008 and was completed on 24 October 2012. Each group of transmitters within each TV region had its analogue broadcasts switched off at a certain point between those dates. The process was co-ordinated by an independent body, Digital UK.