Digital television has arrived in a big way. Indeed, analogue signals in the UK have all but disappeared into the ether, so if you're not on the digital bandwagon, then chances are you simply don't own or watch a TV. There are countless more, however who will have jumped feet-first into an expensive deal with Virgin Media or Sky, without ever really considering Freeview as a legitimate option.
With the rise of online distribution and streaming services such as Netflix, traditional TV models are looking more outdated by the day, so if you're stuck paying hundreds of pounds a year for extra channels you barely ever use, why not consider downgrading? You might be surprised just how many of your favourite channels and shows you'll still be able to watch through Freeview and there are even options to add extra sports, movie and entertainment channels, as and when you want them. Here, however, we'll be examining some of the best 100% subscription free channels you'll get with your Freeview box.
The home of not only the best British and American comedy around, but also forward-thinking US dramas and guilty pleasure favourites, E4 is the channel that truly has something to offer all sensibilities. The station that spawned such monumental pop-culture mammoths as 'Skins' and 'The Inbetweeners', it's also the perfect channel to leave on all day for a lazy, hungover Sunday, as there will undoubtedly be re-runs of modern classic American sitcoms such as 'How I Met Your Mother' and 'The Big Bang Theory' to help soothe your aching bones and ease you through into the working week. If you are a fan of Channel 4's original shows, E4 is also the best place to catch repeats of old and modern classic alike.
The subject of much debate recently, given the BBC's intentions to transform it into an 'online only' station; BBC Three will remain a digital channel until Autumn next year. The channel, which was launched back in 2003, has become known colloquially as the unofficial home of new British comedy, having first aired countless sitcoms which have gone on to become pop-culture landmarks. From 'Gavin and Stacey' to 'The Mighty Boosh', the channel continues to take risks when it comes to fresh and exciting British comedy, making it a channel that was designed to appeal to the under 30's, but it has enjoyed a far greater reach than first expected. It's also known for its hard-hitting documentaries and dramas, with the recent 'Murdered by my Boyfriend' drawing plaudits from all corners of the press. Enjoy it while it lasts!
Though its naysayers have lambasted it is a channel good for nothing more than 'Top Gear' repeats, Dave is a channel that has really found its footing in recent years. The surprise success of such guilty pleasure American exports as 'Man vs Food' and 'Storage Hunters' has seen the channel gain new life as the best place to watch daft Americans doing daft things (and who doesn't enjoy watching that?). Lest we forget, this is also the channel that saved 'Red Dwarf', by bringing it back for a 10th series, which defied all the odds (and that horrid 'back To Earth' special) by being legitimately great! Season 11 is even set to come back sometime soon too. Recently the channel has been commissioning even more original programming, such as the bonkers “24 Hours to go Broke,” in which a selection of comedians are tasked with spending thousands of pounds in a day. Dave is very much the “Little channel that could” of the Freeview world.
Though we are currently living through an age in which many young children have access to their own tablets or smart devices, and so have perpetual access to the internet, online safety for children is still an issue that troubles many parents today and with good reason. It's far easier for parents to monitor the content their children are absorbing on television, and the BBC channels, CBBC and CBeebies offer hours of entertainment for young children, pre-teens, and even teenagers. CBBC is also the channel which birthed 'Horrible Histories', a show which has found an audience outside of its intended market thanks to its witty dialogue, quirky, Monty Python style sketches and educational subject matter. CBeebies, meanwhile, provides programming for children between the ages of 1 and 6 which is primarily made up of colorful, original shows, which are presented by the channels own cast of characters and enthusiastic presenters.
The BBC's 24 hour news service is genuinely second-to-none. Free of the bias and hyperbole you'll find on competitive American services such as CNN, BBC News is a channel that you can always trust to offer all sides of a story, and to offer you that story first! There are other news channels offered via Freeview, such as Sky News and Al Jazeera, but BBC News is the only news channel that provides a keen balance between news, weather, sport and business updates.
If this article has piqued your interest and you are genuinely considering shedding the extra fat options of Sky and Virgin for the leaner alternative, there are numerous websites, such as Get Me Digital which can offer you more information. It's a decision I made years ago and I have never once regretted it!