BT has been delivering TV services since the launch of BT Vision, as it was then known, in 2006. From modest beginnings, BT emerged as one of the UK’s foremost television providers after the launch of BT Sport 1 and 2 in 2013. By the end of 2017, BT TV had 1.8 million customers, making it the third-biggest provider of TV services after Sky and Virgin Media. This guide will run you through BT’s TV offer.
Before we do, you should know that BT’s TV offer is usually only available to BT broadband (link coming soon!) and home phone customers, so if you don’t intend to switch internet provider much of this will be irrelevant to you. You can, however, add BT Sport (link coming soon!) individually to your current TV package if that’s what you’re really after. Find out more about this further down.
If you have any further questions about BT’s TV packages after reading this page (we hope not!) the best place to go is to BT itself. Find out the best way to contact BT on our dedicated page.
BT TV packages
BT’s four main TV options provide a pretty complete selection for prospective customers to choose from. All come with BT Sport as standard, and this is very much BT’s point of difference compared with other providers. The bundles are as follows (we’ve listed a number of the major channels that come included with each):
- Starter + Sport - BBC channels, ITV channels, Channel 4 channels, Channel 5, AMC & AMC HD, Dave (& Dave ja vu), Film4 (& +1), E4 (& +1), Challenge, Sky News, Al Jazeera, BT Sport (1, 2, 3 & ESPN), and more.
- Essential/Classic - BBC channels, ITV channels, Channel 4 channels, Channel 5, AMC & AMC HD, Dave (& Dave ja vu), Film4 (& +1), E4 (& +1), Challenge, Sky News, Al Jazeera, and more.
- Entertainment - BBC channels, ITV channels, Channel 4 channels, Channel 5, AMC & AMC HD, Dave (& Dave ja vu), Film4 (& +1), E4 (& +1), Challenge, Sky News, Al Jazeera, CNN, National Geographic channels, SyFy, Gold, MTV, Discovery, Comedy Central, Universal Channel, Animal Planet, History, Eurosport 1, and more.
- Max 4K - BBC channels, ITV channels, Channel 4 channels, Channel 5, AMC, Dave (& Dave ja vu), Film4 (& +1), E4 (& +1), Challenge, Sky News, Al Jazeera, CNN, National Geographic channels, SyFy, Gold, MTV, Discovery, Comedy Central (and Extra), Universal Channel, Animal Planet, History (and HD), TCM, TLC, Eurosport 1 & 2, BT Sport (1, 2, 3, ESPN and Ultimate), and more - all channels come with their HD counterparts.
TV and Broadband deals
At the time of writing, there are three main TV and broadband bundles available to new customers. Each will tie you down to a 24-month contract, which is important to bear in mind before signing up. This is how much it will set you back and what you’ll get for your money:
|Classic Bundle||Entertainment Bundle||Max 4K Bundle|
|Classic TV + fibre||Entertainment TV + fibre||Max 4K TV + fibre|
|£49.99 upfront||£39.99 upfront||£29.99 upfront|
|Includes BT Sport, AMC and Freeview||Includes BT Sport, AMC, Freeview and 21 premium channels||Includes BT Sport, AMC, Freeview and 55 premium channels in HD|
BT’s fibre broadband, which is what’s included with each of these bundles in terms of internet connection, gives you average speeds of 36 Mbps. BT’s Stay Fast Guarantee involves a £20 refund on your monthly bill if your average download speed dips below this. To find out if 36 Mbps will be enough for your household, see our page on broadband speeds. For more information on BT’s broadband offer, see our dedicated page.
Also included with each bundle is a £70 reward card, and Classic and Entertainment Bundle customers can upgrade to HD for free for 3 months (later rising to £6.50 monthly). This jump in prices after a period is a recurring theme with BT and most major providers. In fact, after the initial 24 months of each of the above contracts, all see substantial rises. Here is what you’ll pay once you’re out of contract in each:
- Classic Bundle - £52.99/month
- Entertainment Bundle - £57.99/month
- Max 4K Bundle - £62.99/month
This is not taking into consideration BT’s annual hike to bring prices in line with inflation. We always urge customers to take this into consideration when thinking about signing up for a bundle like this.
More about BT TV channels
If you’re not a BT TV customer and haven’t been before, you might be wondering what you can get out of it that you wouldn’t get elsewhere. Let us run you through a few of the things you might not be familiar with that may sway you towards BT:
AMC is the US television network behind many of the world’s favourite TV shows. Whether you’re familiar with the name of the network or not, you’ll definitely have heard of some of the series it has produced in recent years. Here are a few of the shows available to watch on BT TV channel 332 (and for Sky customers with BT Sport on channel 186):
- The Walking Dead
- Fear the Walking Dead
- Breaking Bad
- Mad Men
- The Terror
- Into the Badlands
Plenty of big-hitting content then. AMC is also putting out the new drama NOS4A2 this autumn, which is expected to be a major success - a good time to sign up and watch the latest big series as it comes out! The standard definition channel comes as standard with all BT TV packages, and all the above programmes are also available to watch in high definition on AMC HD, which customers with an HD package will find on channel 381.
If you’re used to Sky Sports but are thinking of switching to BT because it’s picking up so many Premier League and other sporting events you love, you might want to know exactly how much you’ll get for your money when you switch. With that in mind, here’s a selection of sporting events available to BT Sport customers:
- Premier League
- FA Cup
- UEFA Champions League
- UEFA Europa League
- Gallagher Premiership
- European Champions Cup
These events are spread across four channels - BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, BT Sport 3 and BT Sport ESPN, each of which has a high definition version for customers with an HD package.
The biggest boxing and UFC events are, of course, usually shown only on pay per view (PPV), and on BT Sport it’s unfortunately no different. Subscribers can purchase all their PPV fights on BT Sport Box Office, which claims to have exclusive UK rights to the Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder fight that’s rumoured will happen in early 2020.
If you’re a Sky customer and don’t want to sign up to a BT broadband and TV deal, you can add a BT Sport pack to your Sky TV deal if you like. You can order it online via the BT website or by calling them on 0800 876 6954. The line is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 9pm, on Saturdays from 8am to 8pm, and on Sundays from 9am to 6pm.
The biggest drawback to doing this, we’d say, is that as an add-on it doesn’t come cheap. Here’s what it would set you back:
|BT Sport with Sky: 12-month contract||BT Sport with Sky: 1-month rolling|
|£20 upfront||£35 upfront|
|HD free for 3 months (later £6.50/m)||HD free for 3 months (later £6.50/m)|
BT TV Kids
If you’re looking for something to entertain the little ones, you’ll want to consider this add-on, which is available to all BT TV customers. Coming in at an extra £5 per month, the BT TV Kids package comes with thousands of kids shows on demand. This means the kids won’t have to sit through any ad breaks. If you’re a Superfast Fibre customer, you’ll also get access to nine premium channels, including Disney Junior, Nick Jr. and Cartoon Network.
We would say that the fact these nine extra channels don’t come with this add-on unless you’ve got Superfast Fibre is a bit of a con, but those of you who do have it won’t mind.
Outside of its TV deals, BT customers also have access to the BT Store, which is split into the TV Store and the Film Store. Let’s take a look at each individually.
BT TV Store
The selection available on the TV Store is good. There you’ll find a large variety of series to get stuck into and a good number of the most popular ones around. These include;
- The Walking Dead,
- American Horror Story,
- True Blood,
- Downton Abbey,
- Game of Thrones,
- Peaky Blinders,
- Grey's Anatomy,
- and Scandal,
among many others. There is again, however, the fact that downloading lots of series in the BT Store will quickly become an expensive habit. The latest seasons of The Walking Dead, for example, are going for £26.99 per season to buy in HD and £21.99 if you’re not fussy and can manage with just standard definition.
If you wanted to download just seasons 6-9 of The Walking Dead in HD in BT’s TV Store, it would cost you a whopping £107.96 in total! We’re pretty sure you could get the full box-set for cheaper than that elsewhere.
BT Film Store
A look at BT’s Film Store tells a similar story. The selection is great - there’s a good selection of classics and new releases across a range of genres, and you can explore the library via a variety of categories. Recent hits like Yesterday, Spider-Man: Far From Home and Toy Story 4 are all already available, but the prices may prove to be a stumbling block.
New releases like the latest Spider-Man or Toy Story films in HD will set you back £13.99, and the standard definition doesn’t come in much cheaper. Older films available in the store, such as Darkest Hour - 2017’s Churchill biopic starring Gary Oldman - come in at £7.99, which may be cheaper but is far from comparable to what you’d spend elsewhere.
BT TV box
To buy BT’s Youview+ TV box you don’t actually need to be a BT TV customer. Non-BT customers can buy it to get access to 70 free TV and radio channels, and all the UK’s key catch-up TV players - which includes BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and 4OD - with no need for any sort of TV subscription or satellite dish. Its selling point is in the combination of cheap and easy Freeview telly with the convenience of catch-up and on-demand TV. Here’s the rundown on its characteristics:
- Works with all broadband providers.
- BT TV and BT Sport ready.
- HD ready.
- On-demand library of TV and films.
- Extra quiet operation.
- Compact design.
Its programme guide allows you to go back and watch shows up to a week after they’ve been aired. It also allows you to pause, rewind and record live TV. You can even record on the go from your smartphone if you’re out and about and realise you’ve forgotten to set a show you want to see to record. You can record up to 300 hours of TV and watch one channel while another is recording if you like, or set two channels to record while you watch something recorded or on-demand.
Outside of a BT TV deal, the box will set you back £149.98 - another BT product that’s a bit on the pricey side.
BT TV App
BT has a couple of apps to help users get more out of their TV experience, particularly by extending the use they get out of their deal with multi-room and on-the-go viewing. Here’s what you get out of each of them:
BT TV App Extra
BT’s TV App Extra can be registered on up to four devices with just one BT ID login. It comes as standard with any BT TV deal and allows subscribers to watch any of the channels available in their package, as well as catch-up shows and downloads from the BT TV Store, which you can save to your device to watch offline. You can also pick up where you left off watching on your box at home on your mobile, as well as watch on up to two devices at the same time.
Apart from viewing on a mobile or tablet, subscribers can also use the app to watch TV on multiple screens throughout their home with no need for extra TV boxes. It’s possible to “cast” programmes from the app to a TV with a Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Tablet/TV or Samsung Smart TV - for which BT would direct you to the BT Shop. If you’re going to buy through the BT Store, we’d suggest a Chromecast as the cheapest option - you can pick one up to cast from an Android or iPhone to your TV for £28 at the moment.
BT Sport App
The BT Sport App is a separate app allowing subscribers to live stream BT Sport 1, 2, 3 and ESPN in either standard definition or HD on the go. Like the BT TV App, it can be used to watch via a mobile/tablet or cast to a TV if you have the right equipment. Apart from all the live events and sports programmes available to you with your deal, the app also gives you access to exclusive content including highlights, interviews and more, and you can easily check fixtures, results and league standings on the go as well.
BT TV Reviews
You’ve got most of the details behind BT TV, so now let’s take a look at what people think of it, and weigh up what we’ve learnt and whether it’s a good idea to opt for BT for your TV deal.
Opinions solely covering BT TV are difficult to come by, with reviewers on sites such as Trustpilot tending to focus on anything from BT broadband service to the Openreach engineer who came to install their line. Learning what customers think about BT TV individually, then, is a tricky business. It’s not a great start, however, to learn that ratings for BT as a whole on Trustpilot have them at 1.3 / 5 stars, with 90% of 5,879 reviewers giving the worst rating of Bad.
We’ve sifted through recent reviews to pick out what punters are saying about BT TV in particular, and the results weren’t great. Customers complain of grainy picture quality when watching in standard definition or their WiFi simply going down when they want to watch an important match on BT Sport:
The WiFi goes off every single time a match worth watching is on... unfortunately this is not an exaggeration, EVERY TIME.
And this is just the customers that want BT TV. Several customers complain of being charged for packages they don’t receive or want. When they call BT’s customer support team (which customers often complain is based abroad) for help, they are often disappointed by the service they get from the agents. In fact, it seems that often they are being purposely misled:
When renewing my broadband contract I was asked if I wanted BT sport, I told the adviser I did not want this but he told me it was free of charge so I agreed to have this added. After a period of time, I noticed the monthly charge had gone up and BT had started charging me for the service...
There are several reviewers who echo these sentiments, with repeated claims that call centre agents have been misleading in extending customers’ deals or selling new ones. It doesn’t do a lot to encourage confidence in BT, and we have to say it would make us think twice about signing up for fear of a similar experience.
Pros and Cons
|Good selection of exclusive content to choose from.||Expensive add-ons and extra content, prices rise significantly after initial contract.|
|Multi-room and on-the-go viewing via BT’s TV apps.||Unhelpful call centre staff with a track record of misleading customers.|