2012 was the year synonymous with the London Olympics but was also the year the digital switchover became official. We outline the difference between the front runners Freeview and Freesat.


You've got several free-to-air options.

  • Freeview provides free digital TV through a traditional aerial
  • Freesat gives a digital TV service via satellite
  • BSkyB offers a free to view service called 'Freesat from Sky' that includes installation of a SkyHD box for a one-off cost. This is also beamed down from space and requires a satellite dish

If you'd like to watch high definition TV in the future, then choose your digital TV provider wisely. While some of the options here are already showing programmes in HD, others can't.

About Freeview

Freeview is still being rolled out in the UK, and new transmitters are being added while old analogue TV services are being turned off. By the end of 2012, most people should get acceptable Freeview reception.

If you live in an area where there is no coverage, or there is no prospect of an improvement, then you can opt for either Freesat or Freesat from Sky.

To check coverage, go to: www.digitaluk.co.uk and type in your UK postcode

Freeview includes a basic line-up of around 50 digital TV channels from BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, Sky and Virgin. It's the cheapest digital TV service, with Freeview set-top boxes starting from around circ;£20.

Freeview + and Freeview HD services are also available.

With Freeview + you can record, pause and rewind live Freeview TV programmes. To get the service you will need to buy a digital TV recorder (also known as a PVR) with the Freeview + logo.

About Freesat

You do need a satellite dish to use Sky, so start-up costs are more expensive although if you already have an existing dish you can use this.

  • Offers more than 140 channels
  • It comes with an HD service, which lets you watch free HD content available from the BBC and ITV.
  • The Freesat + service is a HD digital television recorder (also known as a PVR) so you can pause, record and rewind live TV. To get this service, you need to buy a Freesat + HD PVR.

In summary Freesat offers more channels although it is more expensive to set up (if you don't already have a satellite dish installed). Freeview is a popular choice because it uses your existing aerial and is cheaper to set up.

Updated On:

Mar 07, 2013

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