For the second time in just over two years, BT TV customers are being asked to choose between losing channels or missing out on new services.
BT’s newly launched aerial-free TV service on its Pro and Mini boxes is BT’s biggest step so far in breaking away from Freeview. Until now, reception of all the main free-to-air channels has been dependant on plugging an aerial lead into the box of a BT TV box, to receive services from Freeview.
Pro and Mini box users can now switch to internet mode to ditch the aerial and receive all the main channels through their broadband connection.
But viewers who have switched to internet mode have lost channels including Dave, Drama, W, GREAT! movies, Blaze and Smithsonian Channel.
Talking Pictures, GB News and TalkTV are also absent from the list.
But internet mode does provide access to a greater number of channels in HD, including regionalised versions of the main channels.
In 2020, BT TV customers were presented with a similar dilemma. On that occasion, it affect the telco’s pay TV channel line-up. Viewers who were first to make the switch to one of BT’s new flexible TV packages with NOW (TV) found they had to sacrifice access to a number of pay TV services. At the time it meant choosing between gaining Sky Atlantic or losing services such as Eurosport, Movies 24 and TLC. BT subsequently began to either withdraw channels on its legacy packages or make services like Eurosport available on new packages.
BT anticipates more of the missing free channels will become available via internet mode in the future.
Aerial or Internet Mode: Which is better?
|Internet mode is best if…||Aerial mode is best if…|
|You live in an area with poor Freeview reception||You want to receive the full selection of Freeview channels alongside BT’s premium channels.|
|You only receive a limited number of Freeview channels||You want access to +1 channels and shopping channels|
|You have an internet connection speed of 22Mbps or higher||You want to be able to record up to four channels at once (only 2 channels can be recorded in internet mode)|
|You want to be able watch all BBC, ITV and Channel 5 services (including spin-off channels) in High Definition (HD).||You want to be able to record BBC Radio|
|– This currently includes BBC Four HD and CBeebies HD which are currently unavailable in aerial mode||You want access to every radio station currently broadcasting on Freeview.|
|You don’t need to record more than 2 channels at once||You want to use something other the BT Smart Hub to connect to the internet.|
Both options still provide access to BT’s premium TV service with channels from NOW and BT Sport/Eurosport (channels in the 300-599 range). These are delivered through the internet, regardless of which mode is chosen for the free channels. And users will still be able to access all the various apps that come with BT TV.
Side by Side: Channels available in Aerial Mode and Internet Mode
|Channel Number||Service||Aerial Mode *||Internet Mode|
|1||BBC ONE |
|2||BBC TWO||◾||◾ HD|
|3||ITV / STV / UTV||◾||◾ ITV/UTV HD|
(on ch. 7 in Wales)
|5||Channel 5||◾||◾ HD|
|6||ITV 2||◾||◾ HD|
|7||BBC ALBA||◾||◾ HD|
|7||Local TV (in some areas only)||◾|
|8||Local TV (in some areas only)||◾|
(channel 24 in Scotland)
|9||BBC Scotland (Scotland)||◾||◾ HD|
|23||BBC THREE||◾||◾ HD|
|35||ITV +1 / STV +1 / UTV +1||◾|
|42||GREAT! movies action |
|52||GREAT! movies classic||◾|
|54||RTÉ One |
|55||RTÉ Two |
|61||GREAT! movies +1||◾|
|65||That’s TV (UK)||◾|
|74||Dave ja vu||◾|
|85||Create & Craft||◾|
|101-110||HD channels||◾||◾ Found from ch.1 in place of the SD channels.|
|204||CBBC HD||◾||(on 201)|
|205||CBeebies HD||◾||(on 202)|
|231||BBC NEWS||◾||◾ HD|
|232||BBC Parliament||◾||◾ HD|
|235||Al Jazeera Eng||◾|
|601||BBC RB 1||◾|
|678||ADULT Xpanded TV||◾|
|700||BBC Radio 1||◾||◾ Via BBC Sounds|
|701||BBC R1X||◾||◾ Via BBC Sounds|
|702||BBC Radio 2||◾||◾ Via BBC Sounds|
|703||BBC Radio 3||◾||◾ Via BBC Sounds|
|704||BBC Radio 4||◾||◾ Via BBC Sounds|
|705||BBC R5L||◾||◾ Via BBC Sounds|
|706||BBC 5SX||◾||◾ Via BBC Sounds|
|707||BBC 6 Music||◾||◾ Via BBC Sounds|
|708||BBC Radio 4 Ex||◾||◾ Via BBC Sounds|
|709||BBC Asian Net.||◾||◾ Via BBC Sounds|
|710||BBC World Sv.||◾||◾ Via BBC Sounds|
|716||Greatest Hits Radio||◾|
|BBC Local Radio|
(or Scotland/Wales/NI stations)
|◾||◾ Via BBC Sounds|
|733||Trans World Radio||◾|
|734-735||BBC Local Radio (England)||◾||◾ Via BBC Sounds|
Freeview is working on delivering a similar solution for its next generation of Freeview Play receivers. Called IP-fallback, viewers will switch over to online streams of the channels where coverage is poor. But it could also become a key tool in migrating viewers fully from terrestrial to IP-based services.
Aidan Smith, editor, RXTV
Information in this article as of 29/08/2022.