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Can I get BT Vision without Freeview?

Can I get BT Vision without Freeview?

Hi Jon, We live in an area which cannot get Freeview yet, and we can’t get Sky because there are too many trees. We can get BBC1, BBC2, ITV1 and Channel 4 through our rooftop aerial, but we’re looking at getting BT Vision, as we already have BT broadband.

Without having the access to Freeview, will we still be able to get BT Vision?

Ian Tawse, via email, Monday 4 April, 2011

Our digital TV expert says...

Thanks for your query about BT Vision ( Ian - the good news is that it is possible to use BT Vision without connecting it to your rooftop aerial.

Unfortunately however, you will not be able to access the Freeview channels unless it is connected to an aerial.

BT Vision’s Interactive and On Demand services don’t rely on Freeview, as content is downloaded to your BT Vision box through your BT Total Broadband service. Without decent Freeview reception though, you won’t be able to use the BT Vision service to its full extent. The live channels you watch and record all rely on receiving a good Freeview signal. The 14-day BT Vision electronic programme guide (EPG) is also mapped directly to the Freeview channels you’re receiving.

So, you will be able to use the on-demand features on BT Vision but not watch “live” TV, unless you can get Freeview. Below is some more information about what you will be able to access on BT Vision without connecting your Vision box to your rooftop aerial…

TV on-demand with BT Vision

BT Vision gives you great on-demand TV - you can choose what you want to watch from the huge library of entertainment, and then simply press “play”. There are over 5,500 shows to watch, and new shows are added every week, so there’s something for all the family: the best US and UK TV shows, blockbusters and classic films, kids’ shows with no ads, music videos, sport and more.

The programmes available on-demand are from channels and media producers such as:

  • Warner TV
  • Nickelodeon
  • BT Vision has over 5,500 shows to watch, with new shows added every week
  • CBS
  • National Geographic
  • E!
  • ABC TV
  • Comedy Central
  • HBO
  • Sony
  • MTV
  • Discovery
  • History.

How much you pay depends on the package you sign-up to, but prices start from £12.50 extra a month, on top of your BT Total Broadband.

Alternatives to BT Vision

Unfortunately you’re one of very few people in the UK who can’t get Sky - the satellite TV service is available to 98% of the UK. One way of getting around the problem with the trees is to have the satellite dish installed further away from your property, the other side of the tress. The cable from the dish could then be laid through your garden, up to the house.

This would be a job for a professional, and we don’t recommend you do it yourself. To find a certified installer in your area and get an estimated quote, just fill in our form for satellite dish installation.

I’m not sure where you are living, but there is one other possibility: Virgin Media ( It covers over 50% of UK homes, and delivers a cable TV service with Freeview, catch-up TV and on-demand. Read our guide, BT Vision or Virgin Media for more information.

Investing in BT Vision now means that when your area does switch to digital and you are able to get Freeview, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the BT Vision service. If you’re not sure when your area is going to go digital, use our Freeview postcode checker.

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BT Vision

BT offers its customers an internet TV service through their broadband connection. If you connect your BT Vision set-top box to a digital TV aerial, you’ll get all the Freeview channels available in your area, as well as a range of subscription on-demand TV programmes as extras.
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