Free to Air Vs Free to View Satellite TV: What’s the Difference? | AerialForce
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Free to Air (FTA) Vs Free to View (FTV) Satellite TV: What’s the Difference?

Satellite TV
Jun-2023 / 3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Navigating the terms used to describe television technology can feel like learning a new language, with terms like Freeview, Freesat, free-to-air, and free-to-view tossed around and used like synonyms. Luckily for you, we’re here to give you the 411 and make it simple.

Understanding TV Language

Before we dive into the specifics of Freesat vs Freeview, let’s explain a few important terms.

  • Encryption: the process of scrambling signals to restrict who can view certain content (e.g. a channel). A receiver, an external Conditional Access Module (CAM), a Smart Card, and sometimes, a subscription are usually required to unscramble these signals.
  • Free-to-air (FTA): this refers to unencrypted signals that can be accessed with a generic satellite receiver. You don’t need any additional equipment or a subscription to access this content.
  • Free-to-view (FTV): this refers to content that doesn’t require a subscription to access, but may still need specialist equipment due to potential encryption. In some cases, channels may switch between FTA and encrypted at different times of the day.

What is Freesat?

Freesat is a UK TV service broadcast from the Astra 2 satellites and Eurobird, requiring a Freesat TV receiver or a set-top-box. Jointly operated by BBC and ITV, it offers both FTA and FTV services and is received with the same satellite dish used for Sky TV.

But not all FTA services available on the Astra 2 satellites and Eurobird are included on the Freesat TV channel list e.g. Horse & Country and numerous religious channels.

To access these, you might need a generic satellite receiver or to set your Freesat box to non-Freesat mode. Alternatively, you could manually tune your TV to view these channels.

What is Freeview?

Freeview is a UK-based digital terrestrial TV platform offering both FTA and FTV services. It’s managed by Digital TV Ltd and DTV Services Ltd, with shareholders including BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Sky. Broadcast through land-based TV transmitters, it can be connected via a direct aerial connection to a digital TV or a separate set-top box.

Making the Right Choice

Now for the important part: how do you decide which one is best for you? Let’s point you in the right direction:

Freeview – Simple and Accessible

Freeview is s received via a standard TV aerial, making it easy to use and accessible to most people. After your Freeview aerial installation, you’re all set.

Freeview also offers a wide variety of channels, which cover everything from news and entertainment to children’s programming. There’s a downside, though. Its offerings may be more limited than Freesat’s, and the reception quality can depend on your location and how close you are to a transmitter.

Freesat – Expansive and Unrestricted

Freesat, on the other hand, uses a satellite dish to receive signals, allowing it to offer a lot more channels than Freeview. Its satellite technology also means reception is generally excellent and unrestricted by location. And that’s not even the best part.

It also allows viewers to pause, rewind, and record live TV with its Freesat+ box.

But here’s the catch: Freesat installation may be a bit more complex as it requires a satellite dish.

Ultimately, the best choice depends on your specific needs. If you value simplicity and accessibility, and are okay with having access to a decent number of mainstream channels, then Freeview could be the perfect fit. But if you’re looking for a broader range of channels and better reception across the UK, then Freesat might be worth considering.

Just as you navigate through channels with a click, we too believe in making our services as straightforward and accessible. With a single click or a simple phone call, you can initiate our services. From there, our expert team takes over, delivering a prompt and professional installation that guarantees an exceptional TV experience.

Contact us today to book your appointment, or call us at 0330 162 7094.

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