Freesat provides access to free-to-air satellite television channels. Launched in 2008, it is a joint venture between the BBC and ITV, providing universal access to the main free-to-air channels across the UK, even where terrestrial TV reception is poor. In recent years, Freesat has been broadening its reach by adding
connected TV apps to its receivers.
What does Freesat do?
Freesat receivers enable the reception of over 200 TV and radio services via the Freesat Electronic Programme Guide (EPG). These include all BBC TV services and those from all main broadcasters.
Freesat channel lists:
Newer, connected Freesat receivers combine the standard 7 day TV guide with catch-up and on-demand programmes. On BBC channels, you can restart the programme you’re watching by pressing the Green button.
Additional apps, including Netflix, UKTV Play, YouTube and Hopster are also now available on
connected Freesat boxes.
How do I get Freesat?
You need a satellite dish and either a Freesat box or a Smart TV with in-built Freesat.
Samsung , Panasonic and LG are among the most prominent providers of Smart TVs with in-built satellite tuner for Freesat.
Basically, in addition to a standard tuner for terrestrial TV, these TVs also have an additional satellite tuner and access to the Freesat EPG, which ensures that channels are sorted in a certain standardised order, based on which part of the UK you live in.
What’s the difference between Freeview and Freesat?
Freeview is terrestrial TV – you need a TV aerial to receive Freeview.
Freesat is satellite TV – you need a satellite dish to receive Freesat.
Freesat offers a greater number of channels, but there are some Freeview channels such as 4Music,
which aren’t available on Freesat. Some broadcasters are unable to make their
services available on Freesat due to rights restrictions, and have to be encrypted
when broadcast on satellite.
On the flipside, Freesat doesn’t have the coverage restrictions of Freeview, so if you live in an area with
limited Freeview channels, you will receive a wider range of services using Freesat.
However, Freesat doesn’t currently offer Channel 4 HD or All4 after a dispute between Freesat and
Can I use Freesat outside of the UK?
Viewers in the Republic of Ireland may use a Freesat receiver as a means to access the main UK free-to-air channels. Do not confuse with a standard free-to-air satellite receiver, which does not include the Freesat EPG.
Viewers in the Netherlands, Belgium and Northern France can unofficially use Freesat receivers to watch UK TV channels. Beyond these areas, reception across Europe gradually gets worse and requires ever larger dishes the further away from the UK you get, before it eventually becomes impossible.
Freesat receivers need to be attached to a satellite dish. In order to make the most of catch-up and on-demand services,
an internet connection is also required. At least 2.5Mbps is usually required, but some receivers, such as Samsung Smart TVs, demand at least 10Mbps.
Please note that if you are intending to attach an older Freesat receiver to a dish that is/was set up
for Sky Q, you may need to change the LNB (the small box that sits on the end of the arm protruding from the dish) to a hybrid model. There is no such issue for dishes previously set up for other types of Sky box. New Freesat receivers are designed to work with new LNBs.
Freesat receivers and Smart TVs with in-built Freesat follow the standard Freesat EPG, with the main
channels in the 100s, news in the 200s, movies in the 300s, children’s channels in the 600s, radio in the 700s, shopping from channel 800 and regional services found in the 950-979 range.
All receivers that went on the market after 2014 support HD by default.
There are currently no 4K UHD channels on Freesat, although on-demand content in UHD is supported on
newer devices launched by Freesat in 2020.