This is article about FreesatFromSky and Freeview.

There are a few differences between Freesat and Freeview, including the availability of the service, the TV & Radio channel lineups, the required equipment, and finally costs. All of these factors will have an impact on which system is the best for you.

Availability

The main difference between the two is that Freeview is terrestrial digital TV, whereas Freesat is satellite digital TV.

With terrestrial digital TV, the signal comes from broadcasting antennas positioned at strategic geographic locations. The advantage of this system is that you can pick up the signal from anywhere, even inside the house (although limited) as long as you are within a good signal range. The disadvantage is that the signal varies significantly across the country, even to the point where it becomes insufficient or not present at all. Currently, Freeview covers 73% of the population.

With satellite TV, the signal is sent from a satellite in space. The advantage of such transmission is that it can cover a large area – as big as a country or even a continent – with just one beam. The disadvantage is that there must be a clear line-of-sight between the satellite and the satellite dish, and that the satellite dish must be pointing exactly at the satellite. Freesat covers 98% of the population.

So, what does this mean in practice?

You cannot get Freeview if your area is not covered by the signal. You can check this easily with your postcode at http://www.freeview.co.uk/.

You cannot get Freesat if you are unable to mount a satellite dish, or if the direction in which you point your sateliite (south-east) does not have a clear line-of sight. Any trees, big buildings etc. which are in the way will hinder satellite TV reception. If you are living in a flat and don't have access to the south-east or permission from your landlord to install a satellite dish, the Freesat option will also not be available to you. The exact location for where to point your dish can be calculated with the online-calculator on this site.

If you want to be flexible about where to watch TV, Freeview is the better option as you would only need to take a receiver and a small antenna with you. That way you can watch telly at work, at your mate's house or even on your laptop. With satellite-based Freesat, it's not that easy as you would need to take the dish (large and heavy) with you and then mount it properly (right direction, stable, fixed to something).

 

TV & Radio Channel Lineups

Although Freesat offers more channels than Freeview, the main channels are available on both systems. The key difference is that on Freeview the following channels are available for free, but not on Freesat:

Sky Sports News
E4
E4 +1
More 4
More 4 +1
ftn
UKTV History
abc1
The Hits
TMF

You can also get Top Up TV on Freeview for a monthly charge and add a few more channels to the line up. On the other hand, Freesat has a lot more shopping and special interest channels as well as more radio channels. 

Note that on Freesat, C4, Five, Five Life, Five US and SKY3 are encrypted and require a FTV card, but more on this later.

Equipment and Costs

Freeview: All you need is a digital terrestrial set-top box (also called Freeview box or receiver), available from high street stores or online at Amazon, Currys, eBay etc., and an aerial. A very good price comparison with user reviews of the boxes can be found here. Your existing rooftop aerial should be fine, unless it's very old. You can also get an indoor aerial but reception might be limited and is therefore not recommended as a permanent solution. You can also get a Freeview PVR receiver to record and pause programmes (similar to Sky+ but without the additional charges). 


Freesat: You'll need a satellite dish with an LNB and a satellite receiver to watch all channels except C4, Five, Five Life, Five US and Sky3. If you want these channels as well, you will need an additional FTV card, and the satellite receiver must be a Sky digibox (though there is an exception for the tech-savvies). The FTV card can be obtained from www.freesatfromsky.com for £20. They also offer a complete package with dish, LNB, Sky Digibox and standard installation for £150. If you don't already have many of these items and are also not keen on getting them second-hand and doing a DIY installation, it's well worth getting the whole package. Having said that, it might be better to get a basic 12 month Sky subscription with free installation for about £180 or even less with a special offer (e.g. £5 off when you buy online) . The benefit would be additional channels from the Sky Entertainment Mixes and the option to order pay-per-view movies and sport events from Sky Box Office (this is not possible with just Freesat). You must not forget to cancel your subscription ahead of time within the year. Once the subscription has ended, the Sky card will automatically be converted into a Freesat FTV card.

Again, what does this mean in practise?

Freeview is the cheaper option. It also allows for more flexibility. For example, if you want to watch different channels simultanously in different rooms, you only need an additional receiver. With freesat, you would need a multi-LNB such as Twin, or Quad LNB, and additional receivers. Using a Freeview box is also more convenient, as you can delete channels from the EPG you don't want and re-order the lineups. You can also record programmes with a PVR box. In order to do the same with Freesat, you would need to get a non-Sky receiver but then can't watch the encrypted C4, Five, Five Life, Five US and SKY3 channels unless you are getting a special NDS cam. As you can see, it's getting quite complicated. 

Overall, there are some differences between the two systems. The key is, though, the availability of the service in your area. If you can get both, then getting both might be an option. This way you would have the best of both worlds.


66 Responses to “Freesat vs Freeview”

  1. Alan says:

    @satandpcguy:
    I dropped you an email sometime ago, did you not get that?

  2. satandpcguy says:

    Alan:
    If I did receive it I would have replied. Unless my ultra sensitive spam locked decided to block it. If you send again, I will check the spam blocked folder today and tomorrow.

  3. GaryUnit says:

    I have a 60 inch LED television… works best with Sky HD.

    What is freesat or freeview? One thing I can guarantee you is you don’t get anything for free in this world. Free to buy? No. Free to watch. No you pay a TV license. Free sports? No. You go to the pub, and spend £20 on drinks. Free movies? Not unless they’re on channel 4. Free tv channels. Yes, until you’re hooked, they pull them and you pay for Sky HD.

    Moral of the story is, don’t beat around the bush. There’s no compromise, BSKYB Own this country.

  4. Glyn French says:

    Hi Alan. Don’t know if this discussion is still open? I’m not very techy but have been trying to follow all above. Could we now have an update? I purchased a Panasonic with built-in Freesat some time ago with the intention of upgrading with the dish to receive HD and also replace my old Pioneer hard drive recorder with a Panasonic twin Freesat.
    At the time of purchase John lewis told me you wouldn’t be able to get HD thro Freeview but obviously now you can. Problem is one John Lewis tells me not to now b other with Freesat and buy twin Freeview, but another tells me to go for Freesat. I think ordinary non-techy people are getting well p—-d off with this. Please, I would be grateful for your latest input

    Glyn

  5. satandpcguy says:

    On Freesat HD there are:
    BBC One HD
    BBC HD
    ITV1 HD

    On Freeview HD there are
    BBC One HD
    BBC HD
    ITV1 HD
    C4HD
    but some reception of these will depend which Freeview transmitter / area you are in.

  6. Glyn French says:

    Thanks for that but have been talking to a techy at work who tells me that as I want to record on to DVD also I would have to go for Freeview at the present because Panasonic appear to have now withdrawn their twin Freesat recorder opting for Freeview only. On the other hand I won’t be able to receive Freeview HD in my area until this time next year! So, looks like I will be waitng to see what happens in another twelve months unless you guys know something different?

  7. satandpcguy says:

    Why not go for a Freesat HDR from Humax?
    Or another Freesat HD receiver with a DVDR connected to it?

  8. Glyn French says:

    Didn’t know Humax made one. And I hadn’t thought of having a seperate DVDR. As I say I’m not very techy which is why you guys are so handy! I’ll definitely look into that. Thanks again

  9. leecavturbo says:

    would love to know more info on getting freesat hd+ and audio output in 5.1 optical. so inbuilt aac decoder is it? and beable to get c4 (freesatfromsky) ? all in one box?

  10. satandpcguy says:

    Most HD boxes have a optical or coax digital 5.1 output, you just need to plug into a 5.1 digital amp / AV system.
    C4 is already available on Freesat boxes, and Sky boxes without a sky card.
    C4 HD is only available with a sky card and Sky HD box (or on Freeview HD), not on Freesat HD (yet…..)

  11. steve says:

    planning on buying a ross freesat system. want to install myself but a bit unsure as to how difficult it is to install. any help would be great.

  12. satandpcguy says:

    hi steve.
    Installing the dish should be no problem. locate the best place for the dish, drill a few holes, put up the support, put up the dish. Many people fail at the dish alignment stage. Using the dishpointer.com tool may help. Get at least a basic “beeper” satellite finder, connect it between the LNB and receiver, make sure you can see a TV , and align.

  13. Bob says:

    I have a house in the Algarve Portugal, what would be the best sysyem to take over there from the UK Freview or Freesat?

  14. satandpcguy says:

    As the main post says “The main difference between the two is that Freeview is terrestrial digital TV, whereas Freesat is satellite digital TV. ”

    Som you cannot receive Freeview outside the UK, as it is a terrestrial based system (ie via a TV aerial) and the signals from the UK based masts just do not reach that far.

    In fact, using a UK Freeview in Portugal, connected to a TV aerial will only receive the Portuguese terrestrial channels

    So you would be looking at a dish and Freesat or Sky box.

  15. Confusedceri says:

    Hi
    I’m a very confused sky customer who wants to cancel her subscription. Is it as simple as I cancel sky and after my notice period sky will stop, however I can just use the same box (without doing anything to it) to receive freesat?? And can I still record etc as I’ve got the sky hd box?? Or do I need to buy a new freesat box and pay for installation etc??
    Many thanks

  16. satandpcguy says:

    To cancel a Sky subscription, you need to call sky. The account will be closed after the 31 days notice has elapsed and your payments are finalised.

    Your Sky box will be able to receive all the channels that are available via Freesat.

    However, to use the record function on a Sky box, you will need to continue your subscritpion. Or go for a Humax HDR – a HD box that allows recording for free.