A Guide to Freesat
What You Need to Know
- Freesat is completely subscription free satellite TV service, offering 150 TV channels and radio stations.
- All you need to receive Freesat is a satellite dish and a Freesat box.
- If you already have Sky, you can use the same dish to receive Freesat.
- With a Freesat HD box you can receive Freesat’s five high definition channels.
- With a Freesat HD+ box you can record your favourite programmes and even pause and rewind live TV.
- Most Freesat HD/HD+ boxes now allow you to access BBC Iplayer and ITV Net Player through your TV.
- Many top of the range TVs now come with a Freesat box built in. Check before you buy.
What is Freesat?
Freesat is a completely free service, offering satellite TV without the need for a subscription. The service boasts 150 TV and radio channels, a detailed TV guide and the Freesat+ service even allows users to pause live programmes.
Overall the Freesat service is very similar to Freeview, the distinguishing difference being that Freesat is transmitted via satellite, whereas Freeview comes through your aerial.
As a result, Freesat has a wider area of coverage (you can receive the service anywhere in the UK) and a greater range of channels.
In addition to all of the BBC and ITV channels, Freesat customers recieve satellite channels including E4, More4, the Horror Channel, and various CBS channels including; Drama, Reality and Action.
News channels, alongside BBC offerings, include Al Jazeera, CNN and Bloomberg, and classic films can be viewed on Channel 4's Film4 channel. Various music channels are also included, as well as specialist programming from the Wedding Channel, the Food Network and Showcase.
Radio services are also provided by Freesat, including BBC national and regional stations covering Scotland, London and Wales. A variety of commercial stations are also available.
What You Need to Get Freesat
In order to receive Freesat you need two things;
- A satellite dish.
- A Freesat box.
If you already have Sky or a similar satellite TV service in your home, you’ll be able to use the same dish to receive Freesat.
If you live in a flat, you may find your building has a communal satellite dish that you’ll be able to use (though, you should check with your building manager/landlord first.)
If you do not have a dish, you can have one installed when you buy a Freesat box. A typical dish installation costs £80.
Once you have a satellite, all you need is the set top box (there is more information on Freesat boxes below.) From here setting up the service is easy, simply plug in the box and follow the on screen instructions.
Some of the newest, top of the range televisions come with Freeview and Freesat boxes built in. Check that your TV doesn’t already have Freesat before you buy a box.
There a few different options to choose from when it comes to purchasing a Freesat box;
Freesat + HD
This is the most basic version available. Most models cost between £20 and £30 and will allow you to view all 150 Freesat channels in standard definition.
These boxes give you all the benefits of an SD model, except that you will be able to view Freesat’s 5 HD channels; BBC HD, BBC One HD, ITV 1 HD, 4 HD and NHK World HD.
These channels offer the same programmes as their SD counterparts, but in high definition, which offers up pictures that are up to 5 times more detailed.
These channels do not cost any extra but bear in mind that, as well as the HD box, you will also need buy a HD ready TV in order to watch programmes in high definition, if it you don’t have one already.
HD boxes start from around £70.
These boxes offer all the features of a HD box, but also allow you to make use of the Freesat + service.
Using Freesat + you can record, store and watch your favourite programmes whenever you want. You can even pause and rewind live TV, meaning you’ll never a miss a moment of your favourite shows.
You can set your box to automatically record every episode of a series so that you don’t have to worry about setting it each week and, if there’s a clash between two programmes you want to record, some boxes will even scan the week’s TV guide to see if there is a repeat of either programme and record that instead.
The box will even let you know if there’s a HD version of the programme you could record, helping you get the most of your TV.
Freesat + HD boxes start at around £160. You do not need a HD TV to use the Freesat + service, but you will be unable to view any of the high definition channels without one.
On Demand TV
Almost all HD/HD + boxes and TV’s now boast yet another free feature, on demand TV. With these boxes you can access BBC Iplayer and ITV Net Player.
Using these services you can catch up with any programmes you may have missed on any BBC or ITV channels, and often all the episodes in a series will be available to view. So, you can bring yourself back up to speed with the action in your favourite series, even if you miss a few instalments.
As you can use these ‘on demand’ services to watch most BBC and ITV shows at a time convenient you to you, there is often less need to record them, saving you more space to record other programmes using Freesat +.
You can check which boxes and TVs receive which on demand services here.
- Freesat offers updates on its services, channels and future plans.
- Don’t want to get a satellite dish. You can still receive many channels for free through your aerial. Read our guide to Freeview to find out how.
- As well as free TV services, you can also listen to music for free. Read our guide to Spotify to find out how.