How are Freesat and Freeview different?

Want great telly for free? Then chances are you’re trying to decide between Freeview and Freesat – but what are the differences between the two biggest free-to-view television broadcasters? Both give you access to the latest top telly without monthly fees or contracts - but how can you tell which one is the better choice for you? Let's compare...

Freesat and Freeview channels lists

Both Freeview and Freesat have some of the top TV channels around, including big must-haves like BBC One, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, as well as Dave, Film4, PBS America, GREAT! Movies and many more.  

Freesat and Freeview On Demand options

Freesat and Freeview also both have the option to connect to On Demand players like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and My5 via an internet connection depending on the set top box model, either via Freeview Play or the On-Demand section of your Freesat TV box.  

For paid On Demand players like Netflix, BritBox and Prime Video you’ll need a separate subscription and the latest set top boxes, but you’ll still get to watch it with ease on the small screen.  

Freesat offers more in terms of news and radio channels, including Bloomberg and GB News, as well as channels like Virgin Radio and Absolute 80s Radio.  

However, Freesat doesn’t currently have access to All4, whereas Freeview does. Find out more about All4 on Freesat and the latest updates. 

See the full Freesat channels list and Freeview channels list for the most up-to-date information.   

Coverage: Satellite and Aerial TV 

One key difference between Freesat and Freeview is the way channels arrive at your TV. With Freesat, broadcasts are delivered via satellite, while Freeview broadcasts are via aerials from transmission towers across the UK.  

Both have their benefits depending on where you’re based, and both still require a set top box or a television with Freeview or Freesat built in, but for Freesat you’ll need a satellite dish installed. So, if you’re considering Freeview, it’s well worth checking the reception quality in your area by checking where the closest TV transmitter is.  

Find out more about the differences between satellite and aerial TV.  

What’s the difference in cost between Freeview and Freesat? 

Freeview boxes range in price from around £40 to £179 depending on what features you want. If you want to be able to pause, rewind and record live TV and enjoy HD channels, you’ll need to pay a little more, but if you’re happy with just the basics you can opt for the zapper £40 set top box. Other than that, to get started you’ll need an aerial and, if you want to use the on-demand services, a minimum broadband speed of 2 Mbps. 

In comparison, Freesat is more expensive upfront than Freeview, but saves you money compared to other satellite TV options. You’ll need to pay for a set top box which ranges from approximately £50 up to £269.99 depending on which one you go for. If you choose the most recent Recordable 4K TV Box, this will cost £199 to £269.99 depending on how many hours of telly you’d like to store to watch later.  

Alternatively, you can opt to buy a television that already has Freesat or Freeview built in. This can be more expensive than buying a set top box, but if you’re looking for a whole new media setup this is a quick and easy way to get started.  

You’ll also need a satellite dish to watch Freesat which can be another factor in terms of cost. If you already have a working satellite dish on your house from Sky, you can simply plug your set top box into that and start watching. If not, you can find local installers to get a quote. But once everything’s installed, you’ll get to enjoy the best of TV with no contracts or monthly fees for satellite TV, and with more channels than Freeview. 

The bottom line... 

To summarise, here are the main similarities between Freesat and Freeview: 

  • Both are free to watch after the initial cost of the set top box or TV and any applicable installation costs for a satellite dish, meaning you’re not tied to a TV subscription and don’t run the risk of TV bill price hikes2 

  • Both have a great range of HD channels 

  • Both have great picture quality 

  • 4K ready on the latest Freeview and Freesat 4K TV set top boxes3

  • Both offer set top boxes with recording capabilities 

  • Both allow you to pause and rewind live TV

  • Connect with top streaming and on-demand services with compatible set top boxes5

And here are some of the differences between Freesat and Freeview which will help you decide which is right for you: 

  • Freesat offers more channelsbut doesn’t have All4, whereas Freeview does 

  • If you have poor aerial reception in your area, Freesat may give you a better quality picture, great reception and 100% channel coverage across the UK as it broadcasts via satellite rather than aerial.6  

Get started with Freesat or Freeview and more about switching providers. Got any more questions for us? Head to our FAQs page to find out more. 

1Number correct at time of publishing, including SD, HD and regional TV variants and radio channels.

2 Picture quality at Freesat is reliant on a correctly installed, unobscured satellite dish. Weather conditions may affect reception temporarily. Freeview picture quality is reliant on transmission signal.

3 4K/UHD TV required to view 4K/UHD content where available.

4 Freeview Recordable box or Freesat Recordable 4K TV Box required.

5 Some optional On Demand content or services (such as Netflix and Prime Video) may cost extra and require a paid subscription. On Demand players are broadband speed-dependent and 4K/UHD streaming requires faster broadband connection speeds – see service providers’ recommendations for details.

6 Receive all satellite TV channels available on Freesat with a correctly installed, unobscured satellite dish and a HD TV. Weather conditions may affect your satellite reception temporarily.