What is the difference between Freesat and Freeview?

There are differences and similarities between Freeview and Freesat, the two free to air TV services. Essentially the main difference is the way in which the two services are received. Both services are now also offering HD programmes. there are also now HD and Plus boxes available for enhanced viewing options, and with Freesat you can now also get BBC iPlayer straight to your TV. Find out about the differences between Freeview and Freesat, and where you can buy the equipment you need, below.


Freeview can be accessed through your existing aerial and requires that you either purchase a Freeview freeview What is the difference between Freesat and Freeview?decoder box, or a TV with built in Freeview capabilities, which can then be plugged into your aerial and instantly receives the service. There are up to 50 standard digital TV and radio channels available on Freeview, and some HD channels too. Freeview has no on-going cost as there is no subscription charge. Once you have bought and set up your Freeview equipment you are ready to watch Freeview.

- Browse Freeview products at Currys now.
- Browse Freeview products at Maplin.

Freeview Plus

If you want to do more than just watch Freeview TV – if you want to record, rewind and pause live Freeview TV – then buy a digital TV recorder with the Freeview+ logo. Just plug it in! With a Freeview Plus box, you can pause, record and rewind live TV – and you can now record an entire series at the touch of a button.

- Browse Freeview products at Currys now.
- Browse Freeview products at Maplin.

Freeview HD

A Freeview decorder box or TV with built in Freeview capabilities will allow you to receive and watch Freeview programmes. However you can now also get a Freeview Plus HD Box – this allows you to record standard and HD programmes, record, rewind and pause live TV, and record some whole series at the touch of a button. Freeview also five HD (high definition) channels – these are free-to-air HD channels and are BBC HD, ITV 1 HD, 4HD and S4C Clirlun (in Wales).

Freeview HD is currently being rolled out across the country and by June 2010 it is reckoned that around 50% of the UK will be able to receive Freeview HD – and be able to watch World Cup games in Freeview HD, for free, thanks to BBC1 HD and ITV1 HD, both channels that are available on Freeview HD.

To receive Freeview HD, check coverage in your area with the Freeview coverage checker, buy a Freeview HD digital box or Freeview Plus HD digital TV recorder and connect it to an HD ready TV set, using an HDMI cable. Or upgrade your TV to an HD ready TV set with Freeview HD built in.

- Browse Freeview products at Currys now.
- Browse Freeview products at Maplin.


Freesat is a satellite TV service provided by BBC and ITV. Like Freeview, there is no subscription, and that means no monthly bills. Once you have the equipment, you can get started. For Freesat you will need a working satellite dish or be willing to pay for one to be freesat logo What is the difference between Freesat and Freeview?installed on the exterior of your property. You also need to purchase a decoder box, or alternatively buy a TV which comes with a built in decoder. Because Freesat is delivered by satellite, there are no coverage problems. Perfect if you want to watch World Cup matches in HD from BBC1 HD and Freesat HD this summer!

Freesat offers over 140 digital TV and radio channels, and BBC iPlayer to your main TV set. Freesat also offers High Definition (HD) content (provided that you buy an HD Freesat decoder box and have an HD ready TV). Freesat channels include BBC Three, BBC Four, ITV2, ITV3, More 4 and Film Four. Freesat is a popular alternative to Sky for people who already have a Sky dish, but perhaps now want a free satellite service with no ongoing subscription charges.

There is an 8-day on-screen programme guide too, so you need never miss those favourite programmes!

- Browse Freesat products at Currys now.
- Browse Freesat products at Maplin.

Freesat Plus

Freesat Plus is a Freesat decoder box with extra features to enhance your TV viewing experience – so with Freesat Plus you can record (without tapes), rewind and pause live TV. With Freesat + you can also record up to 200 hours of standard programming.

Freesat HD

Enjoy up to five times as much picture detail, more lifelike pictures, and suround sound with HD TV from Freeesat. To get Freesat HD you’ll need a high definition TV connected to a Freesat HD digital box with an HDMI cable, or an HD TV with Freesat built in. Look out for the HD-ready logo when you shop for a new TV.

- Browse Freesat products at Currys now.
- Browse Freesat products at Maplin.

BBC iPlayer on Freesat

Freesat is the first subscription-free TV service to offer BBC iPlayer. And instead of watching BBC iPlayer on your PC or laptop, you can watch iPlayer directly on your main TV set! With BBC iPlayer you can play, pause and rewind BBC TV programmes from the last seven days.

To watch BBC iPlayer on Freesat you’ll need a Freesat HD box, a Freesat+ box or Freesat HD TV. You will also need at least 1Mb broadband download speed in order to carry iPlayer programmes. If you want, you can then connect your Freesat receiver to the internet yourself  – alternatively you may prefer to arrange professional installation.

- Browse Freesat products at Currys now.
- Browse Freesat products at Maplin.

Neither service requires a subscription and you just pay for the set up and the equipment.

Related posts:

  1. What is Digital TV?
  2. What is the difference between Cable TV and Satellite TV?
  3. What is the difference between Sky and Sky Plus?
  4. What is the difference between on-demand TV and catch-up TV?

17 Comments button

Meinir Jones
February 9, 2010

We have installed a Humax Freesat box on to our TV. The TV is a Sony 40″ widescreen with built in freeview. We have lost a considerable amount of Freeview channels that came from the freeview TV since putting in the Humax… any ideas as to why this was?

February 9, 2010

Hi Meinir

You may have to get the manual for the TV out to work this one out. Maybe it assumes that if you have an external digital TV source this overides the internal Freeview.

If you unplug the Humax do those extra channels return?

All the best


August 18, 2010

It seems to me that my decision to buy a Fressat TV was wrong . The best way to go is buy a good HD ready TV and attach an HD+ Freesat Box ….what do you think ?

October 22, 2010

Can either freeview TV (decoder) or Freesat work in West Africa? and which one will you recommend?

October 22, 2010

Hi Eric

I don’t think either will work I’m afraid.

You could maybe get it from these people over the web

ron davies
October 24, 2010

I bought a panasonic 42g20 plasma tv.and panasonic bluray was set up with existing panasonic dvd recorder.the bluray and recorder remotes switch both on together.they can not operate independently. this means i have to dispose of one or the other.i have been told the only way is to buy a different brand recorder.what up with panasonic? any advice. should i buy satrecorder or freeview.

November 14, 2010

I finally decided to buy the Humax FOXSAT HDR – went to buy at my local tv dealer who told me that he doesn’t think that FREESAT will last longer than another couple of years and that Freeview will take over….back to the drawing board – I have no way of recording the digital TV we now have and quite like the idea of HD seeing as the TV is HD ready.
I dont want to pay out for a HD PVR which will be redundant in a couple of years but have also read that Freeview doesnt havemuch bandwidth available for many more HD channels…

What are your opinions please?

December 5, 2010

i went for a humax foxsat hdr today as my skybox went down i can now record and rewind tv and wacth hd tv i think freesat is the way to go as most house holds have a sky dish allready in place

December 8, 2010

Will either a freeview box or a freesat box work with my existing indolor aerial or 10 year oldSky aerial. I don’t want to spend £100 on a box only to find I need to spend another £200 to have an aerial or satelite reciever fitted.

December 8, 2010

Hi Graham

Freeview works with aerials and Freesat with dishes.

A Freeview box will work with your aerial as long as the signal is strong enough. Digital signals are rather unforgiving when they get weak and the picture just breaks uop rather than getting grainy as with analogue. If it’s an aerial fitted in your loft it should be OK but if it’s a set top aerial there is a chance the signal won’t be strong enough.

The Sky dish should work with a Freesat box although if it is 10 years old there is a chance that it may be analogue and so you may have to buy a new LNB for the dish.

The only other thing to consider is that if you buy either a Freeview or Freesat PVR (the one’s that record) then you will need two aerial or satellite cables.

Maybe you could buy one of those really cheap £15 Freeview boxes to see if it works with your indoor aerial.

Hope this helps


December 17, 2010

have just brought a 22in lg tv full hd with built in freeview.can i connect a cable from my sattelite dish straight to the tv using a f type /coax connector into the aerial socket? will i get the freeview this way and a good picture ?

william jones
January 17, 2011

i have a panasonic tv tx42g10 and a panasnic cinema sound system whats best recorder to go with them there are 3 hdmi plugs i need to have sound system on all the time as tv speakers are very bad

roger hayhurst
January 31, 2011

A lot of TVs these days are advertising built-in Freeview and, increasingly, built-in Freesat. So, how are people expected to record programmes? It seems the only way is to add a external recorder. But they all come with Freeview or Freesat!

So, if you are going to need to buy a Freesat or Freeview recorder anyway, why waste money buying a TV with them built-in. Surely, the way to go is to buy a ‘dumb’ TV and a Freesat or Freeview recorder. What do you think? What do other people do?

September 29, 2011

I have a full hd tv! Sky +, and want hd channels but with out paying extra subscription. Is it freest I want and is it easy to connect and run normal sky as well as freesat?

February 20, 2012

I have already got Freeserve and BT vision. What extra programmes would I get with Freesat?

April 9, 2012

will free sat work of the sky saterlitte dish?

Virginia Holland
July 2, 2012

I live in France and watch UK TV via satellite. I assume I need a free sat box as I want to be able to record TV and films whilst watching something else. Will this improve the reception on some channels as I can no longer get True movies 1 and 2? Whet do you need to get the sony channels on my TV? I have a sony TV but cannot get them at the moment.

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