BT TV: get the best deal
BT TV can pause, rewind, record, catch up and offers on demand and exclusive sport content, as well as Netflix, Sky Sports and Sky Cinema.
But the service is heavily biased towards BT's fibre offering, Infinity. Only Infinity customers can get a Youview+ box or the Entertainment packs, which offer at least 28 extra channels, Sky Sports and more HD channels.
More than 90% of the UK can now get BT Infinity, and 98% of Infinity customers can get all the services available on BT TV.
But regardless of whether Infinity's available or not, we've got all the information necessary to get the best BT TV deal.
Get the best deal
Youview, the platform through which BT offer their TV service, offers up to 80 Freeview channels with seven-day catch up.
Youview's big selling point is seven-day scrollback, an on demand content service of live TV from the past week:
|BBC iPlayer||iTV player||All 4||My 5|
|Milkshake||Now TV||Quest||STV (only Scotland)|
|UK TV (includes Dave, Really and Yesterday)|
There are three types of Youview box available to BT TV customers: one with a single tuner that can pause and rewind live TV for up to 30 minutes but can't record TV, and two bigger Youview+ boxes.
The Youview+ boxes also allow users to pause and rewind live TV, but they have two tuners and either a 500GB or 1TB hard drive that enable users to record live TV channels.
The dual tuners mean it's possible to record one show while watching another, or two shows while watching a third from the on demand library or those stored on the hard drive. They also have a remote record app.
BT also offer Netflix as a bolt-on from £5.99 a month.
Bear in mind that BT TV is only available to those who take BT broadband and phone, so in this review we'll always include the cost of those to give a real idea of the price.
Keep an eye out for special offers too: once known for their Sainsbury's gift cards, BT now seem to prefer offering prepaid Mastercards with their broadband packages. Here are the latest deals available:
TV with Infinity
As we said above, Infinity customers can get more with their TV service, but it's not available to everyone. Anyone who's not sure can check using the following search:
Enter your phone number and / or postcode above to check availability in your area.
Find out more about this faster fibre broadband in our review of Infinity here.
So what can Infinity customers get in terms of BT TV?
The cheapest deals - Starter and Entertainment Starter with Infinity 1 - have a 25GB monthly broadband usage limit and up to 52Mb speeds, plus a basic Youview box with no recording ability.
The good thing about getting BT TV with one of the BT's capped broadband packages, whether standard or fibre, is that watching on demand content through the Youview box doesn't count towards our monthly limit.
Furthermore, whether it's BT's own on demand services, available through the BT Store, normal catch-up TV, or Netflix in HD, as long as we watch via BT box (and not the identical apps on our own smart TV), the streams will actually qualify for extra bandwidth, so using the internet elsewhere won't slow as a result.
Even so, that's not really making the most of what's on offer with a fibre connection. BT seem to be aware of this, hence the introduction of the Entertainment Start package, which gives those with Infinity the chance to add another 20 channels from their premium selection, for a cost - we list them below.
Alternatively, and probably more attractive, are the Entertainment Plus or Total Entertainment packages.
Making the leap to one of these two deals means viewers will get one of BT's Youview+ boxes with their twin tuners and space for recordings.
Entertainment Plus customers get the 500GB box capable of storing up to 300 hours of SD TV, or 125 hours of HD shows.
Total Entertainment customers get the 1TB Ultra HD YouView+ set top box, which can store up to 600 hours of SD recordings, 250 hours of HD recordings - or 60 hours of Ultra HD recordings.
They also get extra channels - 28 more on Entertainment Plus, and more than 50 - including 15 premium channels in HD and the UK's first ultra HD channel - on Total Entertainment. The excitable and impatient can click here to see what they are.
Subscribers with the more advanced boxes also get access to BT TV Everywhere, which allows them to use up to two mobile devices to control their Youview+ box, and to watch the channels they're subscribed to, wherever they happen to be.
Here are the prices for the Entertainment bundles with up to 52Mb and up to 76Mb fibre:
There's one more thing we should mention about the Total Entertainment package: customers interested in getting it will need a connection with a minimum speed of 44Mb.
As we reported when BT announced the details of the new package, that's a faster connection than other Ultra HD providers recommend - and faster than the (until recently) advertised speed of Infinity 1.
That hasn't meant that those with Infinity 1 couldn't get Total Entertainment, though, as BT said that Infinity 1 customers whose lines were "technically capable" of supporting a 44Mb connection should be okay.
So while customers didn't have to take Infinity 2, they did at least have to be in an area where it was available.
In April, however, BT announced that all new Infinity 1 customers would get connections of up to 52Mb - plenty high enough to support a couple of Ultra HD streams at a time.
Existing Infinity 1 customers should see their speeds boosted in the coming months.
This doesn't mean that everyone with Infinity 1 will suddenly be able to get BT Total Entertainment - but it should help widen its availability.
TV without Infinity
People who can't get BT Infinity, or don't want it, can still get the Starter package with unlimited broadband up to 17Mb, or plump for the Essentials package.
Both offer the basic Freeview channels, but the difference between Starter and Essentials is that the latter comes with the Youview+ box, the one that can record - and it costs £6 a month.
|Package||Broadband||Contract term||Upfront price||Monthly price|
|Starter||Up to 17Mb
for 12 mths,
|Essential||Up to 17Mb
for 12 mths,
While their choices are rather limited, standard broadband customers can still add some extra channels or services from those we list below.
At least taking Infinity is no longer a requirement for those who want to be able to watch BT Sport on a decent sized screen.
All BT TV customers should now be able to watch BT Sports 1 and 2, BT Sport Europe, and ESPN on their TVs, depending on what services are available in the local area.
However those without Infinity still can't get anything in the way of the extra Entertainment channels, Sky Sports, the live Sky Cinema channels, or extra HD channels.
Extra channel costs: Sky Sports, movies and more
Entertainment: For the standard price of £6 a month - sometimes offered for less - Starter subscribers with Infinity can add 20 of the 28 premium channels available to Entertainment Plus customers.
Here's the full list of premium channels, separated according to whether they're in the Starter bolt-on or only available with Entertainment Plus:
|Alibi||Animal Planet||British Eurosport||British Eurosport 2|
|Comedy Central||Crime and Investigation||Discovery Channel||Discovery: Investigation (ID)|
|MTV||National Geographic||Nat Geo Wild||Sony|
|Comedy Central Extra||Eden||Good Food||H2|
|MTV Music||Movies 24||TCM Movies||Watch|
HD: For £5 a month, Entertainment Plus customers can get HD versions of the BT Sport channels and 17 of the channels included in the Entertainment pack - marked in bold in the table above. These are included as standard with Total Entertainment.
Total Entertainment also includes the nine kids' channels listed below - and, of course, BT Sport Ultra HD.
Regardless of whether they have Infinity or not, customers can add sports channels, movies, kids' shows, or music on demand to their BT TV deal for an extra monthly cost, or on a pay as you watch basis.
Sports: BT Sports 1 and 2, BT Sport Europe, and ESPN, are now free for all BT TV customers. People who only take broadband can watch online or through the app - for £5 a month.
A temporary ruling made in 2014 means Youview customers have been able to get Sky Sports 1 and 2 on their existing boxes - although a more recent decision from Ofcom could have some impact on that access as time goes on.
In the meantime, however, there are a couple of options available for those who want to add Sky Sports to their package:
- Add Sky Sports 1 and 2 in SD for £22 extra a month
- Add Sky Sports 1 and 2 in HD for £27 extra a month
Movies: Sky Cinema, previously known as Sky Movies, is available for £13.50 a month.
That's cheaper than over at Sky, and depending on whether we have standard or fibre broadband, it's one of the better price options available.
That's because while fibre broadband customers get all 11 live movie channels plus the on demand channel, those with standard broadband only get the Sky Cinema on demand channel - which isn't quite such a bargain.
Pay as you watch movies - including Curzon Home Cinema movies - are available on demand in the BT Store from £2 a pop, while there's also the option to buy movies to keep - and download to another device - from £3.99 a go.
Kids' TV: This add-on is £4 a month for all TV subscribers. For customers with the Starter or Essential pack, it includes thousands of episodes of on demand children's shows.
Those with one of the Entertainment deals also get Kids Extra, which includes nine channels:
- Disney Channel
- Disney Junior
- Disney XD
- Cartoon Network
Music: While MTV and MTV Music are only available to Infinity customers, anyone can add the Music bolt-on for £4 a month, giving them access to music videos, recordings of concerts, and complete albums - with extra features - on demand.
Netflix: Available from £5.99 a month for an SD subscription viewable on one screen at a time, up to £8.99 a month for Netflix's Ultra HD / four screen service.
It's worth noting that when BT's Ultra HD service was revealed in mid-2015, it wasn't compatible with Netflix - but those wrinkles have been ironed out, meaning the streaming service is now available to everyone from Starter subscribers up to those with Total Entertainment.
Existing subscribers simply log on via the app to watch on their TV; new users can sign up via their TV.
Want to upgrade?
Existing BT Vision customers can upgrade to Youview by paying £35 for the box - but they'll also need to enter a new contract.
Unique to BT TV
Actually, that title's a little bit cheeky: the BT TV services don't have a lot that's not available elsewhere.
Even Youview is available to buy in the shop, or from TalkTalk, and since May 2015, Plusnet; our guide to the differences is here.
And now that EE are owned by BT, their TV service is starting to offer bolt-on channel packs that look somewhat familiar.
So in this section we'll take a quick look at what BT TV does offer that's different.
BT TV only channels
All BT TV customers get up to 80 Freeview TV and radio channels, and now that Plusnet offer an almost identical TV service with almost identical bolt-ons, the only channel that's truly exclusive to BT is AMC.
This is a small but significant addition to the provider's line-up, being the home to Fear The Walking Dead, Manhattan, and other quietly impressive US dramas. There's a limited amount of catch-up content available, however - usually in the form of the most recently shown episodes or season.
Otherwise it's possible to find the same shows on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
People who want to watch BT TV in more than one room are catered for via the catchily named "TV Everywhere with Extra Box" subscription.
For £5 a month, plus a one-off fee of either £49 or £99, Infinity customers can watch BT TV in another room with another Youview box. The £49 fee gets customers a basic, non-recording mini box; for £99 they'll get another all-singing, all-dancing, Youview+ one.
The TV Everywhere component of the package allows them to stream their subscription services to up to four different devices, and use two of those devices to remotely control their Youview+ boxes.
The downside of BT's Extra Box service is that anyone interested in taking it must go without Sky Sports and Sky Cinema - or find another way of getting their fix.