British TV Bitrates

BBC One HDTV bitrates are variable as services are carried in a multiplex and are usually statistically multiplexed within that. The various platforms, satellite and Freeview have different channels and data capacities per mux, so this adds another variable.

Bitrates change depending on the complexities of the pictures of all the channels on that individual multiplex.
Fast moving complex pictures require a higher bitrate in order to give good picture quality, whereas slow-moving, more static, less complex pictures need a lower bitrate.
Computer controlled algorithms determine the bitrate for each channel on the multiplex and therefore the bitrate is constantly changing for each channel depending on the complexity of that channel’s picture as well as the pictures on all the other channels on that multiplex.

High Definition (HD) channels require more bandwidth than Standard Definition (SD) channels.
DVB-T2 and DVB-S2 multiplexes make more efficient use of available bandwidth than DVB-T and DVB-S multiplexes.

Listed in the table are the average and maximum bitrates for the listed broadcasters, only Free-To-Air channels are listed.

Please Note: All video bitrates are only a ‘snapshot’, bitrates are constantly changing.
This is only a guide to bitrates used by the various channels, most were measured over a 10 minute period.
Services and their bitrates may vary depending on your location and the platform being used.


Freeview Bitrates

Freeview HD LogoFreeview HD multiplexes broadcast using a variable bitrate, or VBR. The total bitrate available for all the HD channels on Freeview is around 40 Mbits/second.
Multiplexes are set up so that each channel has a variable amount of capacity, of between 3 and 17Mbits/second.

The VBR and statistical multiplexing work by analysing the video stream, and a channel that needs more capacity, like a fast moving picture s or sporting events will require more capacity than slower video or still images.

What is referred to as ‘Freeview Lite’, is actually the three PSB multiplexes, PSB 1 operated by the BBC, PSB2 operated by  ITV plc and Channel 4 and PSB3 operated by the BBC. PSB3 transmits in DVB-T2 and contains simulcasts of the PSB channels in HD.

PSB1 Freeview Bitrates
Freeview PSB1

These three Public Service multiplexes are obliged by their public service status to reach 98% of the UK population. This is in contrast to commercial multiplexes which have no such obligation and broadcast where it is considered commercially viable.
It is up to the individual operators to decide whether or not their mux should be made available to rural areas via relay transmitters.

Most affected, are northern and central Wales, the Scottish Highland and islands, parts of England, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

For more information on Freeview (Terrestrial) see:

Complete table of DTT UK London (

Freeview Channels and Channel Numbers (KSL Technical)

List of DTT channels in the United Kingdom (Wikipedia)

Bitrates on Freeview HD (Nigel Whitfield’s digital TV & technology blog)

How signal stregth, quality and bitrate relate (UK Free TV)

For frequencies & multiplexes, see


Satellite Bitrates

sesAll domestic British TV channels broadcast from the Astra 2 group of satellites co-positioned at 28.2° east, Astra 2E, Astra 2F and Astra 2G.
TV viewers outside the UK and Ireland may not be able to receive some services which are on the UK spotbeam. Overseas viewers may have to upgrade their dish.

For more information on Freesat & Sky (Satellite) bitrates see: Complete table of Satellite: ASTRA 28.2°E

BBC World News is an international news channel funded by advertising. It is not available on Sky or Freesat. It is not available from the Astra 2 group of satellites at 28.2° East.
The channel is available Free to air in Europe on the Astra 1 group of satellites and on Hotbird at 13.0° East.
For more information see: BBC World News TV


BBC iPlayer

Live TV Streams

bbciplayerThe BBC streams BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four, BBC News, BBC Parliament, BBC Alba, CBBC, and CBeebies, through the iPlayer.
Quality is quite good, though if you view in full screen, the quality will suffer.
You could also connect your computer directly to your TV and watch the live channels, again picture quality is watchable, though nowhere near as good as transmissions from digital terrestrial or satellite.

All BBC live streams on iPlayer use Digital Onscreen Graphics (DOGs).
At present, most of the BBC’s television channels are streamed at a bitrate of 500 kbps, using the VP6 video codec, audio is streamed at 128 kbps MP3.
BBC One streams at a bitrate of 800 kbps, using the H.264 codec, the channels audio is 96 kbps AAC+ (same quality as 192 kbps MP2).

H.264 is a high-performance video compression technology. Compared to On2 VP6 AK 3.5, H.264 delivers sharper video quality at a lower bitrate, though it requires more CPU power to decode, particularly on older machines, and the user needs to have the latest version of Flash installed.
NOTE: All live BBC TV streams are restricted to UK only IP addresses (Geoblocked).

VOD (Video On Demand)

High Definition
BBC iPlayer watch in HD
By default, video settings are set to High Definition (HD) on computers and connected TVs which support Adaptive Bitrate, the basic default HD setting is dependent on how much bandwidth a user has available. Devices which do not support Adaptive Bitrate can opt-in to an HD stream, subject to bandwidth, via an HD button.

For HD programmes, the BBC use H.264 coding, with an average bitrate of 3.2Mbps and 192 kbps audio.
HD programmes use about 1.5 gigabytes per hour of video.

Standard Definition
Highest quality Standard Definition video is streamed at 1500 kbps, the default video quality for SD on BBC iPlayer is 800 kbps H.264 even in the smaller video playback window size.


ITV Hub Bitrates

ITV HubITV Hub is an online video on demand service accessible through the main ITV website and through other platforms and apps.
The service offers a variety of programmes from homegrown programming to imports across ITV, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 ITVBe and CITV.
Some programmes, imports and films are not currently available due to rights issues.
ITV Hub is an online video on demand service that provides access to shows broadcast on any of ITV’s channels – ITV, ITV2, ITVBe, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV. Catch-up on your favourite ITV programmes for up to 30 days after they have been on the ITV or one of the other ITV channels.

ITV Hub is available on a wide variety of devices and platforms, including online at, Android and iOS devices, Windows 8, PS3, YouView, Samsung Smart TVs and some Freesat receivers.

ITV Hub uses adaptive bitrate streaming, with bitrates of 1,200 kbps, 800 kbps, 600 kbps, and 400 kbps, This reflects the same profiles as used in their VOD (video on demand) strategy to give the viewers the same experience.


Bitrates on All 4

All 4Video quality on All 4 varies greatly depending on which platform content is being viewed, at best, quality can reach halfway between SD and HD quality, around 2400 kbps on Samsung Smart TVs.

On computers, the video quality on All 4  depends on when the content was added to their catalogue, the oldest programmes seem to be in low quality, while more recent additions are close enough to standard definition to enjoy even on the largest of computer screens. The average bitrates on All 4  are around 1530 kbps for newer content, this is more or less standard definition.

On iOS devices, All 4  content has an average bitrate of 1320 kbps, this is quite adequate for the iPhone, iPad and for using AirPlay.
On Android devices, the average bitrate on All 4  is around 1810 kbps.
On Xbox One the average bitrates are around 1720 kbps
On NOW TV/Roku devices Video quality is good, though not the best All 4  has to offer. On average bitrates are around 1790 kbps which was slightly higher than standard definition.

Channel 4 LiveThe highest bitrates and Video quality are available on Samsung Smart TVs. Channel 4 has not disclosed details on the bitrate they use.
On average bitrates average between 1600 kbps and 2400 kbps.
Although not quite HD, content on All 4  is around halfway between the BBC’s SD streams (1500 kbps) and their HD streams (3200 kbps).

Channel 4 Live Streams
Channel 4 live streams of their channels through the On Now section, offering surprisingly good video quality even at full screen.
The average bitrate is around 820 kbps, this is sub-SD video quality.


Bitrates on My5

My5Video quality on iOS devices is around 1560kbps. on the iPad, the streaming quality appears acceptable for the enlarged tablet screen.
AirPlay quality is very poor, this is not an ideal way to view My5 content to your large TV screen. The iOS device must remain on, whilst the video plays on both screens, this will quickly drain the battery, connect the device to the charger.

On Android, Video quality is adequate for mobile displays, though not for tablets.
Bitrates on Android are around 1540kbps – a good SD quality stream.

On Xbox One bitrates are around 1490kbps.

On PlayStation 4, Video quality for Demand 5 is very watchable, though still standard definition with an average bitrate of 1600kbps.

One of the best and cheapest platforms to access My5 content is with the NOW TV box (under £10), or a UK purchased Roku box.
Video quality on the Now TV/Roku platform is excellent, with an average bitrate of 2140kbps. This places video quality somewhere between SD and HD, a good quality SD stream.

My5 offers a static bitrate of 1500kbps on Samsung Smart TVs. If bandwidth limitations prevent this bitrate from being used, viewers may have to utilize a lower blurry or pixelated stream. 1500kbps video quality is almost as good as SD offered on BBC iPlayer.


Bitrates on UKTV Play

UKTV PlayUKTV Play offers standard definition streams with an average bitrate of  1802 kbps. Video quality can be a little blurred at full-screen. At this bitrate, video quality should be a bit sharper, it appears to be lower than standard definition.

Codec: H264 MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 720×416
Display Resolution 720×404
Frame Rate: 25
Decoded Format: Planar 4:2:0 YYU
Minimum Bitrate: 91 kbps
Average Bitrate: 1802 kbps
UKTV Play on Bitrate ViewerMaximum Bitrate: 4331 kbps

Codec: MPEG AAC Audio (mp4a)
Codec Profile: AAC LC (Low Complexity)
Channels: Stereo
Sample Rate: 48000 Hz
Average Bitrate: 128 kbps AAC (This can vary between 120-133 kbps)

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