BT TV is, as you might expect from the name, TV from BT. It’s a subscription service that ties in with the company’s broadband offering, and which isn’t available without it. Additionally, BT offers a strong sports package, BT Sport, which shows Premier League matches, Premiership Rugby, WWE, MotoGP, and more besides. Apart from sports coverage, the content you’ll find on BT TV comes from streaming services and other providers, with Netflix, iPlayer, Britbox, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV (which provides Sky content) represented through their respective apps.
This means that you can subscribe to movies and entertainment packages alongside the sport, and the ability to change your package lineup every month means it’s easy to switch if something’s not working for you.
What is happening to BT Sport in 2023?
BT joined up with Warner Bros Discovery last year to run BT Sport as a joint venture. Now that venture has decided rebranding BT Sport is the way to go and it will be launching TNT Sports later in 2023, probably in time for the new football season in the UK. Eurosport – owned by Warner Bros Discovery, will also fall in under this same new brand over the next couple of years. Discovery+ will take over as the streaming platform for the new service.
What do I need to watch BT TV?
For a start, you need a TV. One of the best, because you deserve it. Your screen requires an HDMI port, but this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for a telly released in the past ten years. Then you need a BT broadband connection – TV isn’t available without it, but its Freeview Play functionality requires an aerial connection too. You can’t use a satellite dish and splice Freesat in, however, so your rooftop aerial needs to be working.
Once you sign up, you’ll receive a box from BT, and there’s a choice of five different ones. Which one you’ll need depends on whether you want to record TV or just rely on catchup services, whether you want 4K or are happy with lower resolutions, and whether you want a small box or a big one. You can also have extra boxes, for all the TVs in your house, and use the app on phones and tablets too.
The BT TV Box Z4 is the smallest box, and doesn’t have recording facilities. It does, however, have a small cache that allows you to pause and rewind live TV for up to 30 minutes (for SD programming). Oddly, the BT TV Box Mini also claims to be the smallest box, but has a larger cache, meaning you can pause and rewind for up to two hours. This box doesn’t have the Freeview aerial connection, streaming the channels over the internet instead.
The BT TV Recordable Box has a 500GB hard drive on which you can record up to 300 hours of TV, and pause and rewind for two hours. Its bigger brother, the BT TV 4K Recordable Box, has the same capacity but allows you to stream 4K content from its apps, outputting it to a compatible TV.
The real top of the range is the BT TV Box Pro, which can do 4K, and has a 1TB hard drive to record up to 600 hours of TV. The Pro box has built-in Wi-Fi, which not all the boxes do, needing instead to be connected to your BT Hub using an Ethernet cable. BT can supply powerline adapters, which it calls Mini Connectors if running a cable all the way across your living room isn’t an idea that grabs you.
What can I watch?
The boxes are a cross between a Freeview decoder and a smart platform and allows you to watch on-demand and catch-up services alongside live broadcasts. Things like Netflix are included in your BT subscription if you get them as an add-on, so you won’t need a separate account, and the ability to change your package every month means you can watch football all summer and movies all winter, if you want.
Sport is a major part of the TV offering, with its own BT Sports channels, including one dedicated to ESPN, alongside Eurosport and Sky Sports. BT Sport is also available through other platforms via the BT Sport monthly pass.
A BT exclusive is the American drama channel AMC, the home of The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul. It also includes subscriptions to Britbox and Now TV, as well as all the Freeview channels, and movie fans are catered for with the Netflix add-on and Sky Cinema, so there’s always something to watch.