We got an early look at EE TV, which is incorporated into two new EE TV boxes and also brings a set-top box experience to Apple TV 4K
UK internet service provider and mobile operator EE has officially launched EE TV, a new live TV and streaming platform available on two new set-top boxes – the EE TV Box Pro and EE TV Box Mini – along with Apple TV 4K.
The service, which was first unveiled in October, launches today but I got a first-hand look earlier this week at the company’s London headquarters. It seeks to blur the lines between live and on-demand content, offering access to a huge range of on-air channels while also supporting every key streaming service in 4K HDR and with Dolby Atmos where available.
There are a couple of ways in which BT and EE customers can access the new service. It’s built into the two EE-branded boxes but runs via the EE TV app on Apple’s 4K streamer.
The EE TV Box Pro and EE TV Box Mini have been designed to complement the brand’s wireless routers and their outer casings are made from 95% recycled plastic. They connect directly to your Wi-Fi network, removing the need for a TV aerial, although aerial connections are also supported.
The only notable difference between the two aside from their sizes is that the Pro model includes a PVR (Personal Video Recorder), allowing you to record up to 600 hours of content on up to four channels simultaneously.
The UI is the same on both boxes and offers a couple of ways to access the extensive selection of content available. A sidebar on the left-hand side of the screen enables you to navigate to specific pillars: Home, Guide and My TV, along with pages set aside for Series and Films, as well as the EE store.
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Content on the homepage is presented in several rows, the first of which is “Live TV”. From there, you can jump into the EPG or select from on-air broadcasts aggregated by their popularity at the time of day you’re watching. In the EPG, you’re able to scroll as far back as a week to catch up on shows you’ve missed, pause and rewind live TV, filter content, and add programmes to your Watchlist by pushing a single button on the accompanying Bluetooth remote. Customisation options include the ability to hide or favourite certain channels, making it simpler to find the content you’re interested in watching.
Below the Live TV row are “Featured Apps” which cover all of the major UK TV catch-up services (BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Channel 4 and My5) along with popular streaming platforms including Netflix, Prime Video and Now. These are displayed in a fixed order and there’s no way to reshuffle them. Scrolling further down brings up the “Recordings & Watch List” row containing content you’ve earmarked for viewing at a later date as well as things you’ve started watching but are yet to finish.
Additional rows display content across specific categories such as “TV Shows” and “Sport”, with these individual pages split into handy genres. The Sport page, for instance, presents a row of featured channels followed by rows for individual sports including football, rugby union and tennis.
Should you have something specific in mind to watch, there’s a Universal Search function available, which has been carried over from BT TV and scans the entirety of the EPG and all on-demand services to find your desired content.
I found navigating my way around the interface a smooth and intuitive experience and was impressed by the breadth of supported services. The remote control lacks the direct access buttons to streaming platforms found on most modern TV remotes but is otherwise a lightweight, uncluttered affair.
Launching alongside the two EE TV boxes is EE TV on Apple TV 4K. Once plugged in, the Apple TV 4K box recognises you’re an EE broadband customer and immediately sets to work downloading the EE TV app along with EE’s various partner apps. You’re then able to watch live TV via your Apple streamer as well as all of your favourite supported catch-up and on-demand content.
The app will display shortcuts to your most-watched channels so you can hop back to them efficiently and will also highlight films and sporting events that are about to start to help ensure you don’t miss a minute of the action.
You can read all about Apple’s streaming box in our Apple TV 4K review but its key benefits include support for the Dolby Vision and HDR10+ HDR formats, Apple’s Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos, and Siri voice controls via the remote. That remote has been custom-branded for the EE TV packages and also includes a button for quickly accessing the live TV guide.
Regardless of which set-top box you choose, you’ll have to pay a £30 activation fee, but the boxes themselves are included as part of the various 24-month EE TV content packages. These are detailed below but it’s worth noting that you’re not locked into the package you choose. EE offers customers the ability to switch plans month by month and add a variety of extras, including Prime Video, to create a TV package tailored specifically to their needs.
Sports (£18/mth): 4 TNT Sports channels, Discovery+ Premium and Eurosport 1 and 2
Entertainment (£20/mth): Now Entertainment (Sky Atlantic and Sky Max), Netflix (basic), Discovery+ (basic) and Discovery Channel
Big Entertainment (£30/mth): Now Entertainment, Now Cinema (11 Sky Cinema channels), Netflix (basic), Discovery+ (basic) and Discovery Channel
Big Sport (£43/mth): Now Sports (11 Sky Sports channels), Discovery+ Premium and Eurosport 1 and 2
Full Works (£76/mth): Now Membership (11 Sky Sports channels, 11 Sky Cinema channels and Now Entertainment channels), 4 TNT Sports channels, Netflix (standard), Discovery+ Premium and Eurosport 1 and 2
Finally, EE is offering an additional EE TV Box Mini multi-room option at no extra cost, allowing customers to access the platform’s services in multiple rooms and not just the primary location where they watch TV.
All three set-top boxes are available now and we hope to review the EE TV service at some point soon, so be sure to check back then to see how it fares against the competition.