With the Virgin Media TiVo box everywhere and Sky TV offering free movies and M&S vouchers you could be forgiven for thinking that BT are having a hard time recruiting customers to the BT Vision TV service – you’d be wrong. In the last quarter of 2011 BT Vision gained almost as many new customers as Sky at around 40,000 and it was also the fastest growing pay TV service in quarter three. It doesn’t mean BT Vision is taking over, far from it as the service now has just under 680,000 subscribers against Sky’s 10.25 million with Virgin somewhere in the middle, but something about the offering that many thought would never take off has obviously grabbed the British public and BT must now feel like the magic 1 million subscriber number is at least in sight. The fact that they are the biggest UK broadband provider gives them a huge advantage here of course, as the TV service can be added for a very small extra cost if you already have BT broadband.
What are the Pros and Cons of BT Vision?
As mentioned above if you already have BT broadband or have decided that’s the one for you then it’s a cheap add-on if you go for TV Essential at £4 a month – TV Unlimited at £12.50 a month needs more comparison, we’ll look at that in a moment.
Here’s how it works;
The Vision+ Box is essentially a Freeview Plus box, that is it receives Freeview channels and uses the built-in hard drive to let you pause, rewind and record programmes. The difference with the Vision+ Box is that it connects to your BT broadband to download on demand content and catch-up such as the BBC iPlayer. If you have TV Essential the catch-up TV is unlimited and included but the on-demand content is accessed on a pay-as-you-go basis from 50p a show. If you opt for TV Unlimited you can watch the on demand content as often as you like, plus you get free ESPN – well, no monthly fee after you buy a one-off £10 viewing card.
Why not just buy a Freeview Plus box? Freeview Plus boxes start at about £70 and there’s no ongoing subscription charge, however that won’t give you the catch-up and on demand. There is a £40 activation fee for the Vision+ Box (sometimes discounted or waived depending on the BT deals on offer) so it adds up quite well.
BT Vision – Good Bits
The Vision+ Box is HD and 3D ready – there isn’t a huge choice of HD channels but if you just want the main terrestrial channels in HD like BBC, ITV etc it’s a lot cheaper than Sky or Virgin.
BT Vision – Bad Bits
It’s Freeview based so you have to make sure the Freeview reception in your area is good enough to give you a reasonable selection of channels. This includes extras like Sky Sports – if you get Sky Sports on BT Vision it’s delivered to you via Freeview so you need to check availability first. Not great for those who want a huge selection of channels.
Check it out on the BT site by clicking on the button below.