The Digital Switchover, which is the change from analogue TV to digital TV, has already started to take affect across the UK and will have an impact on everyone’s home entertainment system sooner or later. For this reason, it is a perfect time to take a closer look at Freeview and Freesat service – what are the real differences?


As a jointly run operation, Freeview offers up to 50 digital TV channels and 24 digital radio stations, using your existing aerial. This includes content from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5, and to a certain viewers the extra stations of Top Up TV and ESPN. The service is free and requires no contract or subscription. There is a one-off payment for the digital box, digital TV recorder or Digital TV, but apart from that it is ready to go straight away without charge.

The Freeview offering has expanded in recent years to include the services such as Freeview + and Freeview HD. The standout benefit of Freeview HD is the enhanced HD quality, however with Freeview + it is in its recording capabilities. Originally titled Freeview Playback, the Freeview + lets you record programmes for later viewing. From a one-off programme to an entire series, you favourite shows are never missed.


One of the failings in Freeview TV is that it is not always available, with certain areas not receiving the signal due the natural interference, for example, people living in towns situated in a deep valley or by a mountain side may not receive the Freeview signal. This technical situation led to the creation of Freesat. Ultimately this is the Freeview service transmitted by satellite. The benefit of receiving Freesat is the larger number channels received, with access to 174 channels including 5 HD channels, 40 radio channels and 2 on-demand services. The downside is that, obviously you need a dish installed, and this will add cost to the initial set-up.


The cost of setting up your digital TV set-top box vary quite considerably and will depend on what choices you make:

1> The number of TVs in you decide to convert in your home will impact on the cost.
2> Your choice of whether to pay one upfront cost or pay monthly for a subscription service.
3> If you choose to buy a standard digital box, an HD digital box, an integrated digital TV (iDTV), or a digital TV recorder (which will also convert your TV to digital).
4> Subscription to additional channels (e.g. movies and sports) or services (e.g. broadband, telephone or HD TV) will affect your costs.