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How to compare digital TV deals and providers

When comparing digital TV deals and providers it's important to factor in price, features and availability. With a little advice from our experts you'll soon be comparing the best TV deals in your area and picking the right package for your home. Need personalised TV package advice? Call our experts free on 0800 988 1458.

By on July 11, 2014 at 15:49 PM
Guides
Digital TV
How to compare digital TV deals and providers

Call us on 0800 988 1458 for a free, personalised TV package recommendation.

Digital TV providers at Simplifydigital:

 BT-news-generic   Freeview   Freesat-logo Now TV box big talktalkbbnews-generic   sky-logo   virgin-media logo 

Types of digital TV deal

With lots of providers entering the pay TV space, either on a pay-as-you-go or pay monthly basis, UK consumers now have a lot more choice over their digital TV service. There are several types of service and quite a few providers to consider, depending on your needs and budget.

Free-to-air

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  • Freeview is arguably the UK's cheapest digital TV solution - you can get a set top box from as little as £25 and there's no need to pay a monthly charge to watch TV. You get access to around 70 channels, plus the more expensive box, which retails for around £57, lets you watch several in HD (BBC HD, 4HD and ITV HD) as well as recording two shows at once. 
  • Freesat gives you access to over 200 great satellite TV channels, subscription free. The award-winning Freetime+ HD box is available from around £180 and gives you access to Catch Up TV services as well as letting you roll back up to 7 days of TV at the touch of a button. You can even download the Freesat smartphone app and use your Apple iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad to remotely set recordings or check what's on over the next few days.

 Pay monthly digital TV subscriptions

BT-news-generictalktalkbbnews-genericsky-logo virgin-media logo

  • BT gives you extra sports channels and unlimited Wi-Fi access as part of your package if you opt for a combined broadband and TV bundle. The BT  TV set top box is packed with HD movies, Premier League football matches and there are lots of flexible boosters you can add or remove based on your family's needs. If you take BT Entertainment with superfast BT Infinity broadband you get BT Sport 1, 2 and ESPN, plus 20 additional channels including Comedy Central, Fox and Discovery channel. Features include Catch Up TV and the BT Vision Player, which gives you access to over 12,000 movies and shows.
  • TalkTalk offers two TV packages, both with hours of on demand content and access to 7 day catch up TV via a free YouView box. Essentials TV lets you pause and rewind up to 30 minutes of live TV, whereas Plus TV lets you pause, rewind and record over 200 hours of TV, and you can bolt-on premium channels and enjoy HD channels.
  • Sky TV gives you a huge range of live and on demand content via an internet-ready Sky+ HD box. Sky On Demand is full of Box Sets to enjoy, including the latest shows, some of which can be watched back-to-back from the beginning to the end (package dependent). The free Sky Go app is included with all Sky TV subscriptions and gives you access to some of your favourite Sky TV channels on the go, even if something is already being recorded or streamed on your set top box. You can bolt on Sky Movies and Sky Sports.
  • Virgin Media offers TiVo, the smart TV set top box that can store up to 1TB of your favourite shows, record up to three shows at once and gives you access to Netflix (subscription required) as well as all the major Catch Up TV services, premium On Demand content to rent or buy and over 200 cable TV channels. You can create series links for your favourite programmes, see show recommendations based on your preferences and even rewind the TV schedule back 7 days to enjoy shows you missed earlier in the week.

TV streaming services

Now TV box big

  • Now TV gives you pay-as-you-go access to Sky's best content for a low price. You pick the Sky Movies Month Pass, Sky Sports Day Pass or Entertainment Pass (or any combo of the three) and get instant access to the content you've picked. There's no contract, you can watch live or On Demand, and sign up or unsubscribe as suits you. It's a flexible, affordable way to catch premium content without paying for hundreds of channels you'll never watch.

Which digital TV suppliers are available at my address?

Just pop in your postcode below and find out which digital TV providers are available in your area.

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Which digital TV features should I be looking out for?

  •  Electronic programme guide: This lets you see what's on all the digital TV channels you have access to with your package. You can select programmes to view and your PVR will automatically switch to that channel when it's time for the show to start. Handy!
  • Multiple programme recording: Most PVRs or digital set top boxes now allow you to watch one show while recording multiple others - this makes it a lot easier to decide what to watch on a Saturday night in
  • Internal storage for TV shows: Depending on which digital set top box you choose, you'll have a fixed amount of storage space for your favourite shows, but you can delete things when you're done watching them, and storage space is pretty generous
  • Catch up TV services: Watch your favourite shows when you want to, with online catch up TV services that can be accessed via your digital TV box
  • Premium channels: If you have a monthly subscription service with a Sky Sports or Sky Movies add-on, you can access premium channels and watch football matches or blockbusters from the comfort of your own sofa
  • Internet services: A lot of PVRs are now internet-connected and allow you to enjoy online content, for instance YouTube videos. You'll need to connect your box to your home Wi-Fi network to use these features, unless you have a TiVo box, as this is always wired into your internet connection

How do I compare my options?

Are you looking to enjoy a few hours of downtime a week with whatever happens to be on, or do you take your series links seriously? The answer to which sort of digital TV deal you need, is very much dependent on how important services like catch up TV, on demand and premium channels are to your household, as well as the amount you feel comfortable paying to enjoy those couch potato moments.

Free-to-air services like Freeview and FreeSat are offering more perks all the time, but if you truly want to max out your entertainment options you'll be looking at a subscription-based service like TiVo from Virgin Media, or Sky Satellite TV. Broadband providers like BT and TalkTalk are now also offering their own internet TV options that work by streaming your channels to you over your broadband connection, so there's a lot more choice than ever before. Not to worry though, we're here to help you look at the main features of each digital TV provider, so that you can work out which option would work best for you.

Should I opt for a monthly digital TV subscription?

It depends what you're looking to get out of your digital set-top box. Premium digital TV deals include advanced set top boxes that give you access to more features, as well as cable channels like Sky Atlantic, Sky Living tv and Cartoon Network. They generally tie you in to a 12 or 18 month contract, but can offer good value for money if you bundle your digital TV with broadband from the same provider.

What about free-to-view digital TV and one-off set top box payments?

If you want to save on your monthly TV bills and are happy to pay a small initial amount for your set top box, it could be worth opting for a Freeview or Freesat PVR and taking advantage of the free services and channels on offer, which include access to BBC iPlayer for catch up TV services, BBC 3 and Film4. Some advanced set top box features will not be available with Freeview, for instance, streaming TV box sets on demand through your internet connection, which is possible with Youview.

Are internet-connected PVRs better?

Most PVRs are internet-connected nowadays. Internet-connected PVRs allow you to access a world of online content without having to use your computer. You can download and stream movies using pay-per-view services, enjoy catch up TV from BBC iPlayer and Channel 4's on demand service 4oD, and access YouTube for fun video clips to share with the family. It's common for most modern PVRs to be internet-connected as you get a more entertaining experience.

What's the difference between TiVo, Sky+HD, TalkTalk TV, Freeview, Freesat and Now TV?

The different types of digital set-top box:

Virgin Media TiVo

Virgin Media TiVo is a monthly subscription service that comes with a full-featured PVR that connects to the internet and allows you to access premium channels, catch up TV services and online content from sources like YouTube. Benefits include 3x tuners & a dedicated 10Mbit connection. If you're interested in taking out a Virgin Media deal that includes TiVo, consider bundling your services and taking broadband and home phone from the same provider as this will help to keep costs down. View all Virgin Media TiVo deals

Sky+ HD

Sky+HD is a premium monthly digital TV subscription service with a PVR that allows you to pause, rewind and play live TV, plus access exclusive Sky TV channels like Sky Atlantic and Sky Movies Disney (depending on your package). One of the most popular digital TV suppliers, Sky gives you access to a world of online content and features such as 7 day catch up TV, On Demand services and the ability to watch all your favourite episodes back-to-back. View all Sky+HD deals

TalkTalk Plus TV

TalkTalk now offer broadband bundles that include a full-featured digital TV service. The TalkTalk PVR is a digital set top box with YouView technology and exclusive features, such as the TalkTalk player which allows you to view thousands of hours of the best shows from either side of the Atlantic, completely free. You can pause, rewind and record live TV, and watch a recorded programme while recording two others. You can also view 7 days worth of catch up TV and bolt-on premium TV services normally associated with cable and satellite packages. View all TalkTalk Plus TV deals.

Freeview

If you'd prefer not to pay a monthly subscription fee for your digital TV services, Freeview may be a good option. The box carries an initial cost, but after you make the one-off payment you can enjoy all the channels and online content for free. Freeview boxes are available to buy from lots of retailers, and are an affordable way of enjoying TV content if you're happy to miss out on some of the more premium channels. View all Freeview deals

Freesat

Freesat is a free-to-view satellite TV service that carries an up-front cost, but no monthly subscription fee. You will need to have an existing satellite dish at your property to have Freesat installed (an existing Sky dish in working order will do just fine) or be willing to pay to have a dish installed if there isn't one. The benefit of Freesat is that it gives you access to more channels than Freeview, together with premium services like catch up TV and the ability to watch one show while recording several others. View all Freesat deals

Call Simplifydigital for advice on the best digital TV deal for you. Our friendly Switching Support experts will search over 11,000 deals to find the right one for you and can organise everything, even installation.