Freeview has completely transformed the way in which we watch TV. If you think back to over 20 years ago, we only had 5 channels and before that it was only 4!
You could only watch these channels, or if you had a Sky TV subscription you could watch all the channels you liked, but of course that was – and still is – very expensive (tips on cancelling Sky here).
With the introduction of Freeview, homes across the UK were able to access many channels for free through their TV aerial.
Since Freeview first came to our homes, there’s been many questions surrounding how it actually works, what you need to be eligible for it and if you need internet access to receive the free channels.
In this article, we’re going to be discussing all of these common questions and more, so that you can be on your way to watching free live TV in no time.
What Is Freeview?
Freeview was launched in 2002 as a joint venture between BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and the communications company Arqiva.
It’s the UK’s digital terrestrial television service and, it according to the Freeview website, it has just “one simple aim: to give you the best possible line-up of TV, for free”
Freeview can be found in 17 million homes across the UK and it boasts more than 70 standard channels and 15 HD channels, and they do all this for no monthly cost.
It works by using your aerial in your TV, so there’s absolutely no need for an internet connection to connect to these channels.
Two decades on and Freeview still remains as popular as ever, especially since the introduction of Freeview Play in 2015 which integrates streaming channels into a hub with access to live, catch-up and on-demand TV rolled into one service over an internet connection.
You don’t need an internet connection to watch regular Freeview channels on your TV, but you’ll need an internet connection if you want to access Freeview Play.
Freeview Play gives you 95% of the nation’s favourite TV for free and if that’s not enough, you can top-up with extra on-demand TV, movies and sport from the range of apps you can download.
Apps that come as part of the Freeview Play package include BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, UKTV Play, Horror Bites, and CBS Catch Up Channels UK, STV Player, POP Player and BBC Sounds.
But of course, you can download apps like NowTV, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and many other streaming services, if you have a subscription with them.
How Do I Get Freeview Play?
Freeview Play is usually built directly into most devices that are sold in the UK. It’s available in the Amazon Fire TV Edition, Panasonic, Toshiba, TCL and Hisense TVs just to name a few.
You’ll be able to check if a TV supports Freeview Play before buying it by looking for a mention of ‘Freeview Play’ in the TV’s features list.
If your TV doesn’t support Freeview Play, there’s always an option to buy a set-top box, boxes are available for £100 or less. If you want to record content, there are recordable set-top boxes that can sometimes be upwards of £200.
What Equipment Do I Need To Have Freeview?
1. A TV With Freeview Built Into It, Or A Freeview Box Or Recorder
Since Freeview is really popular nowadays, most TVs will have Freeview built into them already, so it’s never been easier to access the Freeview service.
However, if your TV doesn’t have Freeview built into it, Freeview boxes and recorders are still widely available to purchase for as cheap as £40 and upwards.
2. An Aerial
To be able to receive Freeview, you’ll have to have an aerial plugged into your TV that goes into a specific socket that should already be built into your wall.
External aerials are usually the best to use, though loft aerials or portable indoor aerials may work in stronger signal areas.
3. A TV License
Anyone that broadcasts live or on-demand TV in the UK needs to pay a TV licence fee. This is the only fee you’ll need to pay towards Freeview as there’s no subscription fees. You can buy a TV license here.
4. An Internet Connection (Optional)
If you only want to watch digital terrestrial Freeview channels, then you won’t require an internet connection. But if you’re wanting to access catch-up and on-demand content or any apps, you’ll have to use Freeview Play, which we mentioned earlier.
To access this, you’ll need an internet connection of around 2Mbps.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Does Freeview Keep Breaking Up?
The trouble with going through an aerial and not internet connection is that the signal is either available or not.
TV programmes are no longer shown through a snowstorm of interference and you may not even be able to receive all the channels that are being broadcast from the local transmitter.
There’s a few different reasons why you may be experiencing interference.
Firstly, it’s a good idea to check your local area for the channels you’re predicted to get using this Freeview channel checker https://www.freeview.co.uk/freeview-channel-checker.
Next, make sure that your aerial is aligned correctly to the transmitter, make sure there’s no damage to any of the cables and that it’s connected securely.
The weather can also cause reception and interference issues. Wait until the weather clears up to see if that was the reason why, if it wasn’t make sure to contact the Freeview team.
Will A Signal Booster Improve Digital Reception?
Yes, a signal booster will do just that! As it’s specifically designed to boost your digital TV signals. They help to improve the signal quality that is being received by aerials that are in locations with a weak signal from a TV transmitter.
TV aerial boosters can help to prevent poor picture and sound quality that may be caused by long cables that are distributed to multiple TVs.