Want to save some money on your home entertainment setup? Signing up for a broadband and TV package is a really easy way to knock a significant amount off your monthly bills.
They’re now offered by many ISPs, and prices have never been lower! As well as simplifying your money management (since you’re only paying one company for all these services) it is often the cheapest option.
As the UK’s largest ISP, BT offers a wide range of broadband deals to suit all needs, and this includes TV options. With BT TV and broadband packages you can enjoy fast net connectivity and cheap TV.
BT TV - YouView and Vision
BT's TV service used to be called BT Vision and used a special BT Vision set-top box, however in 2012 they made some changes and added YouView to the line-up, uniting them both under the 'BT TV' umbrella.
YouView is joint endeavour between BT, TalkTalk, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 aimed at simplifying access to catch-up services. The YouView box itself is a digital freeview recorder which can tape shows - like Sky+ or Virgin TiVO - but also offers seamless on-demand access.
Want to watch the last episode of Peep Show? Just move back in time using YouView’s clever EPG and you can instantly load up 4OD through your television and begin streaming. No more mucking about trying to hook a laptop up to your TV, or squinting at a tiny smartphone screen.
For BT customers, the BT YouView box includes all the standard features (watch and record Freeview, access catch-up services) but also includes access to the BT Vision Player, an extra that's not available on YouView boxes you'd find in the shops.
BT TV Essential and Unlimited
There are two main BT TV packages - TV Unlimited and TV Essential.
The BT Vision Player includes an extensive catalogue of movies and shows. TV shows include many US and UK series which are not available on iPlayer and other catch-up services, including US hits like The Shield and classic comedies like Red Dwarf.
With TV Unlimited you can view these whenever you like for no extra charge, while TV Essential users must pay 50p per viewing (and cannot see the extra movies).
If all you’re concerned about is getting a cheap package with a little added value on the TV side of things then Essential is ideal, however BT TV Unlimited is a compelling alternative to the premium TV services of Virgin Media and Sky.
What happened to BT Vision?
BT's original TV offering, Vision, used a special set-top box to deliver on-demand movie and TV over your broadband connection. This is still available, however you'll only get one of these if you are signing up for ADSL broadband, Infinity fibre customers will receive a YouView set.
If you already have a BT Vision box you can continue to use it, and choose between the Essential and Unlimited packages just like YouView customers.
Both YouView and BT Vision boxes have the same selection of Freeview TV and radio, can record shows to a hard disk and have HD capabilities.
The major differences between the two are that YouView has a slightly better selection of catch-up services and four HD Freeview channels, while BT Vision gets Sky Sports 1 and 2 and ESPN.
However BT does have a new extra for sports fans which is available to everyone regardless of which box you have...
BT Sports is a brand new service which has the potential to shake up an area of the market that has been dominated by Sky for many years.
BT Sports 1, BT Sports 2 and ESPN (plus their HD counterparts) will show Premier League and FA Cup matches, plus games from France, Italy, Germany, Brazil and the Scottish Premier League. It will also broadcast Rugby Union, women's football and tennis, Ultimate Fighting Championship, Moto GP and Red Bull events.
You don't need to be a BT customer to access BT Sports - Sky viewers can pay extra on top of their subscription to see the channels - however BT Infinity broadband customers will get it entirely free on a Sky box, BT TV box or via a smartphone, tablet or computer.
How do I get a BT TV package?
BT TV is available to anyone who can receive a BT broadband connection, so that’s most of the country!
In order to confirm if it is available in your area simply tap your postcode into our comparison table above and it will display all the options, making it easy for you to compare broadband packages and find the best offer. And you can click the reviews link to read the opinions of other users.
The majority of the population does now have access to ADSL and ADSL2+ connectivity, which means you should be able to get up to 8Mb (ADSL) or up to 16Mb (ADSL2+).
That’s more than enough for streaming TV. However, some of you in remote areas may find that your connection speed is only 1 or 2Mb. This can be sufficient for some standard definition TV streaming but you may encounter a lot of buffering, and HD content is not likely to work well. Just something to keep in mind.
If you’re really lucky you’ll also have the option of BT Infinity fibre broadband. This ultra-fast connection can run at up to 76Mb - more than enough for HD TV! If that’s available you’ll be able to see and compare the fibre deals in the table above when entering your postcode. Although the cost of a fibre broadband package is more than ADSL, there is no additional fee for BT TV packages using fibre compared to ADSL.
BT Infinity customers with BT TV also get channels not available to ADSL broadband. As well as free BT Sports channels, Infinity users can pay a small additional fee for BT TV Extra Essential or Unlimited. This gives you 18 more channels including SyFy, Comedy Central, Gold and MTV, with more on-demand content included with the Unlimited package.