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BT Vision Streaming Service review

John Archer



Our Score



  • Get free YouView box if you subscribe to BT Infinity and TV Essentials package
  • HD picture quality is strong
  • Streams are stable


  • Have to subscribe to BT Infinity or BT Broadband to get Vision
  • Only available through YouView or BT Vision receivers
  • Feels a bit expensive

Review Price £18.00

Key Features: Video streaming via BT; Box Office pay per view movie section; HD available on some films; Dolby Digital 5.1 audio on some films; Comes with free YouView box to new Infinity subscribers

Manufacturer: BT


It’s been far too long since we last pored over the BT Vision video streaming service. Way back in 2009, in fact. So it’s high time we went back to it, to see how far it’s advanced. Especially since BT recently kicked off a new promotion whereby you can get BT Vision via a free YouView receiver.

To get started, we need to explain all the complications of BT’s current availability and cost options for BT Vision. The first - and in our opinion most troublesome - point is that in order to access ANY BT Vision content, even the pay per view stuff, you need to be signed up to BT as your home internet provider. We’ll get into why we find this problematic later.

Limited viewing device options

It also remains the case that you can only watch BT Vision via either BT’s own Vision receiver or a YouView box. There’s no support for iPads, Android devices, Smart TVs or even PCs. This too seems rather limiting in this day and age.

BT Vision

There are essentially three BT Vision packages available: a basic TV Essential subscription, a TV Unlimited service, and a Sports package. Frustratingly, the latter option is currently only available if you get one of BT’s Vision boxes rather than a YouView receiver, though the service is due to become available via YouView by next summer.

It’s also the case that you can now only get the Sports pack (unless you already have it) if you live in an area served by BT’s fibre-based Infinity network.

Sports Complication

So if you fancy the Sports package - which currently comprises Sky’s Sports channels - we’d probably recommend you go for the YouView/Infinity option now if you’re in a suitable area and just manage without the sports channels for a few months. After all, the BT Vision box doesn’t offer either YouView’s brilliant ‘backwards EPG’ functionality or its extra streaming players - like Sky’s Now TV.

To get a ‘free’ YouView box, then, as well as a ‘free’ TV Essentials BT Vision package, you need to become a new subscriber to BT’s Infinity broadband service - something that will cost you £18 a month if you’re one of the 11 million households and businesses currently covered by the fibre network. If you can only get one of BT’s standard broadband services on your local exchange then sorry, but there’s no free YouView box for you.

BT Vision

You also aren’t entitled to a free YouView box if you’re already a BT Internet subscriber; instead you’ll have to wait until you’re out of contract and then take up the Infinity service as part of a completely new contract.

You should also note that both the YouView and BT Vision receiver options carry a rather aggravating £49 ‘activation fee’.


With the TV Essentials package you get pay-per-view access to all of BT Vision’s on-demand TV shows and Box Office movies, with TV episodes costing between 50p and £1.10 a time and films starting at £3.50, and going up to £4 for HD versions. These rentals are usually yours for 48 hours.

Splash an extra £12.50 a month to bag the Unlimited service, and you don’t have to pay for any on-demand TV shows - they’re included. Also you get an extra Vision Film section featuring more than 250 ‘back catalogue titles you can watch for free. At the time of writing titles here included Air Force One, The Aviator, Kick Ass, The English Patient, Face off, and Magnolia.

Doesn't eat away at your download limits

One last price-related issue we need to cover is that stuff you watch via BT Vision is not treated as part your download allowance if you have one on your broadband deal, so you won’t find yourself running out of capacity after a couple of HD movies.

When you fire a YouView box up now, it will automatically recognise if you’re a BT broadband subscriber and if you are it will present you with a large BT Vision icon on the home screen. One click of this and you’re straight into the menu of services on offer.

BT Vision

This menu is reasonably well presented and thought through. You get a 'shorthand' list of options on the left, with fuller menus associated with the highlighted left-hand option on the right. The categories on the left comprise: Vision Box Office, Vision Kids, Vision TV, Vision Music, Vision Film, Vision Sport, and something called Essential on Demand.

The stuff on the right side of the menu usually comprises highlighted content for each of BT Vision's areas, while also providing other 'jump offs' to further content.

Handy OS features

Further features of the menus that we greatly appreciated during our tests were 'People who watched this title also watched' recommendations, the ability to create playlists (especially useful, of course, with the music content) and the ability to bookmark favourite content so you can find it more easily later.

The overall look of the menus is bright, colourful, spacious, inviting and for the most part logically laid out.

There are a few issues with the OS, though. For starters, the menus are a touch sluggish and they don't show many video link icons on screen at once. Also the service doesn't do as much as it should to highlight HD content. It turns out you having to go into the Search By Category section before you stumble across a way of filtering films by whether they're HD or not.

Next page


October 19, 2013, 12:12 pm

I have been a BT customer for a number of years now.

I recently up graded my BT package. This was due to be
activated on the 7th October.

All the equipment arrived as agreed, i plugged the equipment
in and found i could not connect my BT Vision box to the internet via my power
line adapters.

I contacted the technical department and they confirmed the
power line adapters were faulty and i would need new ones, the operator told me
he could not place an order until 6pm and that he finished at 4.30 pm so i
would need to phone in the following day and it would be sorted out straight

I contacted BT the following day and was told as the order
was still active and new power line adapters could not be ordered and i had to
phone in 24hrs later.

This i did to be told that the order was still active and i
would have to phone back 2 hours later.

This i did and was told the order was still active and there
was nothing the operator could do, he said he would transfer my call to the
correct dept, he cut me off and at this point i had enough of being messed

I contacted BT again and explained the situation and that i
wanted to cancel the order, i was told i could not as i needed to give BT a reasonable amount of time to sort the problem, i asked what a reasonable amount of time was, i had been paying for a service for four days, spent hours on the phone trying to sort the problem out and had been fobbed off several times. The operator could not find the definition for a reasonable amount of time even after asking his manager.

I was asked if i could give BT one more chance to sort this
problem out and to give it 48 hrs and he would call me back with a solution. To
his credit he did phone back, the order had been closed and he ordered me what
he said was the latest power line adapters.

The adapters arrived on the Tuesday and i installed them and
they worked.

On the Friday the power line adapters failed and i contacted
BT again, i was put through to the faults department and it was confirmed that
the adapters had failed. The operator asked me to describe the adapters and
then stated that those are the old ones and i will send you the up to date
ones, even though i had already been told i would be in receipt of these previously,
they are due to arrive this coming Tuesday.

This will mean that in two weeks of paying for this service
i have only had little over three days of full service.

BT vision is advertised as an easy and quick way to get on
line and to start watching catch up television, that is false advertising that
i will take up with the office of fair trading.

The service i have paid for has not been provided and i will
also take this up with consumer rights for a refund of my money.

BT is a land mark company that people put their faith in to
supply a service second to none, to be reliable, to sort any problems out
within a fair time frame and to be honest and open. This is not the BT i have


A very unsatisfied customer

Alistair Green

November 4, 2013, 7:41 pm

As a user very poor. box crashes at least once a day. On demand service freezes and is practically unusable. Have spoken to other BT customers who have similar issues. Counting the days to the end of my contract so I can go elsewhere. Yes - it is that bad


November 4, 2013, 11:32 pm

Hi Alistair I also have the Vision box and am not at all impressed. Constant crashes and slow downs. I didn't realise others experienced the same issues. Will keep an eye out and ask BT about it.

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