TalkTalk is relaunching its TV offering under the banner Free TV. TalkTalk Plus customers who pay £14.50 per month for broadband will be entitled to a free YouView PVR, which adds internet TV content to a Freeview HD recorder.
The TalkTalk-branded YouView box, made by Huawei, is essentially the same as the new Humax-made recorder, which is now on sale in shops – without any subscription attached – for £299.
TalkTalk is one of the main partners behind YouView and the pricing looks quite competitive. With a minimum contract of 18 months and £50 installation fee, even if you cancelled, you’d still have paid about the same as the current retail price for the box – and you’ll have had a year and half’s worth of broadband use. UPDATE: The monthly £14.50 price does not include phone line rental, which starts at £9.50 per month, and it seems only new customers get the 18-month minimum term under the deal; current subscribers must renew for 24 months to get the box for free. Even so, it remains fairly decent value, especially bearing in mind the LoveFilm offer mentioned below, which is worth about £60.
Of course, the company hopes you’ll stay with them and take out its extra premium channel packages. New or existing customers can pre-register for a free YouView box now via the TalkTalk website. The TalkTalk Plus service has an unlimited landline phone call and broadband data plan. The engineer-assisted installation costs £50 and, from the small print, it appears to be mandatory.
For more than a year, TalkTalk has received the largest number of complaints among the major fixed-line broadband providers, according to the regulator Ofcom, so its installation service may be an attempt to reverse that trend.
TalkTalk’s YouView proposition differs from the retail version by being able to offer all Sky Sports channels, including Live Formula 1, Sky Movies, the Sky basic channels and a few others for various monthly fees but no commitment beyond 30 days, so these can be changed or cancelled. This content will be in standard definition only. On-demand programmes from Sky Anytime will be available too.
This premium bundle replaces and expands on the previous Sky by Wire package that TalkTalk TV carried, and differs from Sky’s NOW TV, which will be an option for any YouView box user.
The changes make the TalkTalk TV product more similar to and possibly cheaper than BT Vision, not counting special offers. BT is also a YouView partner and will be announcing its own new packages soon.
Earlier this week, TalkTalk announced that its Plus customers will also get a 12-month free subscription to LoveFilm Instant. LoveFilm is not yet one of the service providers on YouView itself (the download service can be used via PCs and a few net-connected entertainment gadgets) but we wouldn’t be surprised if it joined the line-up some in the near future.
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TalkTalk also said that some kind of TV product will be launched during 2013 for its Essentials customers, who pay less than the top-tier Plus subscribers. This could involve the cheaper non-recording YouView “zapper” box that has been mooted, or it could be the PVR being offered at a discounted price rather than totally free.
More info: TalkTalk