In a world where combining broadband and TV has become the norm, EE has thrown its hat into the ring today, with the announcement of several new platforms – including EE TV.
In 2022, BT announced that EE would become its new ‘consumer-facing’ brand for broadband and TV (along with mobile) – and today’s announcement is a result of that plan.
EE’s ambitious project is stepping into new areas for the company, including gaming, home security and even insurance, promising a comprehensive digital marketplace for a myriad of services and products.
One of the most important of this initiative is the announcement of EE TV, which aims to redefine the home entertainment experience by providing a flexible linear TV service integrated with the Apple TV 4K device.
However, unlike competitors Skystream service, EE TV is tied to EE’s broadband service – just like BT’s existing TV offering – so ‘flexibility’ is still somewhat limited.
Let’s take a closer look at everything EE announced today.
The new all-in-one EE platform
Starting this week (with some products arriving in just a few months) EE is expanding its offering with a new online platform, making it easier for UK consumers to access a variety of products and services.
This move is not limited only to communications, but is about entering new areas such as gaming, home security, and even insurance.
Central to this new platform is the new ‘EE ID’, which will be open to everyone in the UK – including those who don’t have EE broadband.
EE ID will allow platform customers to order and control everything EE has to offer with a single login, without having to switch accounts when they want to order gaming gear, manage entertainment subscriptions or order gadgets.
Within this new platform, you will find different sections or categories. For example, there’s a section where you can manage your internet and mobile subscriptions, making it easy to keep track of your monthly plans.
There’s also a new store for browsing and purchasing electronics, so if you’re a gadget lover, this store might interest you.
Gamers aren’t left out – there’s a dedicated section just for games, with Microsoft being a partner – so you’ll be able to buy Xbox consoles, games and even charging cards, right from the EE app.
Alongside these new shopping categories, EE is also enhancing its broadband service, launching an ultra-fast broadband tier called E-Viber 1.6 Gbps – This is touted as the fastest home broadband speed among the top providers in the UK.
Of course, this speed sounds great on paper – but in practice, its availability depends on the availability of Openreach fiber in your area – and this is still very limited across the UK.
As part of EE’s new broadband service, customers will be able to choose special ‘modes’ (via the app) – such as ‘Gaming’ and ‘Work from Home’, which will then prioritize certain aspects of broadband (so your Xbox On priority, for example).
Finally, if you’re an EE Broadband customer, you’ll have the option to add mobile plans with unlimited data on a flexible 30-day basis for just £10 per month.
In simple terms, EE is launching a new online marketplace featuring different sections for different services and products, along with faster broadband options, although superfast broadband may not be available to everyone across the country.
While it’s convenient to have everything in one place — especially if you’re an EE broadband/TV customer — it’s still, essentially, an online store.
EE TV: What’s it all about?
For Cord Busters readers, the centerpiece of EE’s announcement is the unveiling of EE TV, which aims to replace BT TV and act as a flexible linear TV service that meets the needs of modern households – and relies on broadband rather than streaming.
The new EE TV platform will offer subscribers a choice between two devices – the EE TV Pro Box – that are identical to the existing device PTTV Box 4K ProAnd the new Apple TV 4K EE Box.
EE integration with Apple TV 4K
One of EE TV’s defining features is its integration with Apple TV 4K, marking a notable debut in the UK.
This integration will allow users to access a fully integrated EE TV service with Freeview live channels – on Apple TV 4K.
Subscribers will receive an EE-branded Apple TV 4K streaming device, which will have the unique EE app already installed, as well as an EE-branded remote.
Customers who want to watch in multiple rooms will be able to get more devices (either an Apple TV or an EE TV Pro Mini) — without having to pay extra each month (although they may have to pay a one-time fee for another device ).
The EE app on Apple TV will feature a dedicated TV guide that will combine UK linear channels alongside on-demand content from the big broadcasters’ apps (and yes, it looks a lot similar Free play).
But instead of having to rely on over-the-air broadcasts, you’ll be streaming live channels over broadband.
Freeview-over-broadband is already offered on BT TV’s 4K Pro box, so it’s good to see it ported to the Apple TV platform too.
However, it’s important to note that not every Freeview channel is currently available via streaming on BT TV, and it’s safe to assume that this limited selection will be identical on EE TV.
However, BT has also told us that the selection of Freeview channels on the new Apple TV EE platform, will not necessarily be identical to the selection found on BT TV / EE TV Pro boxes – so it is possible that some Freeview channels will be available on one of them. Square, not the other – or not available at all (without antenna).
Of course, since the Apple TV is a streaming-only device, there won’t be an over-the-air backup option.
EE TV: Not for everyone
There are two big limitations to EE’s new TV service:
First, the new EE TV app for Apple TV is exclusive to the EE-branded special edition Apple TV, which means that retail Apple TV boxes won’t support this app.
This exclusivity may dampen the enthusiasm of those who already own a retail version of the Apple TV.
Secondly, just like BT TV, the new EE TV platform will only be available to EE TV Broadband subscribers – so it’s not a truly standalone TV product (unlike the Sky Stream puck, for example, which works with any broadband provider).
EE TV vs BT TV
When compared to BT TV, the EE TV platform is ready to take its place, and there aren’t many differences other than the new Apple TV option – at least from what we know so far.
BT TV currently offers several packages that combine channels and streaming services – Netflix, Sky’s NOW (entertainment, cinema, Sky Sports), TNT Sports and more.
BT TV subscribers also get a 4K Pro Box (as a loan) as part of their subscription – which allows to watch Freeview either via antenna or via broadband.
BT TV Box Pro also supports a fair number of streaming apps – Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Video, NOW and more, as well as all the standard streaming apps – BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Channel 4, My5, UKTV Play, S4C, STV Player and BBC Sounds bad.
Regular prices range from £20 per month for the Entertainment plan, to £18 per month for the TNT Sports package, and up to £76 per month for the all-inclusive VIP plan (all prices) Currently discounted on BT TV).
With the new EE TV service launching in just a few months, pricing has yet to be revealed – but is likely to be very similar to BT TV’s current pricing system – although an Apple TV 4K option may shake things up a bit.
It’s worth noting that existing BT TV customers will be able to stay with BT (and BT Broadband) for the foreseeable future, although over time they will start getting promotional ‘payments’ for switching to EE TV.
Even if they switch – they can keep their existing BT TV 4K Pro box, which will continue to work – as identical to the upcoming EE TV Pro box.
EE TV vs Sky Stream and Virgin Media Stream
Sky Stream has gained attention for its no-strings-attached service, allowing consumers to access its service without any mandatory broadband subscriptions, providing a truly independent service.
However, Virgin Media Stream is similar to EE TV’s new offering in that it requires a broadband connection – from Virgin Media in this case.
In terms of the channels and packages they offer, the three boxes are fairly similar (with premium streaming services, channels and Freeview over broadband) with each company giving the interface its own spin.
Once EE TV is fully launched, in a few months, we’ll be able to do a more detailed comparison including pricing.
First impressions: Is flexibility real?
Any competition in the pay TV space that provides more choice for consumers is a good thing, especially when it offers another new Freeview solution without the need for an antenna.
However, the requirement to be an EE broadband customer to access this service is somewhat disappointing – with this limitation, EE TV can’t fully compete with Sky Stream, unless you have BT/EE broadband (Or you’re ready to switch).
Moreover, with Freeview layout To launch “Freely” next year – Free, standalone broadband viewing service – Customers may find they don’t need pay TV companies like EE (or Sky or Virgin Media) to make watching TV easier (did anyone say? Cut the TV cord?).
Overall, the new EE TV service currently appears to be a modified version of the BT TV platform, now with a new Apple TV EE option.
The full potential of EE TV will be better judged once pricing details are revealed, and the performance of the Apple TV app is evaluated – so we’ll have to wait a few more months.
Hopefully, EE will consider opening up the EE TV service to non-broadband customers, and perhaps even expanding the app to other devices, to offer a truly flexible TV service.
For more news and updates, Subscribe to our free newsletter.