Do you need a TV licence to watch Netflix? Can I watch Disney+ and iPlayer without licence - UK law explained

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The TV licence fee is an expence that many could do without as the cost of living crisis bites - this is what you need it for, and what you can watch without paying it

The TV licence fee has been a bone of contention among the BBC, politicians, and the general public over recent years as more viewers turn to streaming and question the cost of the licence, especially during the cost of living crisis. The Conservatives have pledged to eventually scrap the fee, but it will remain in place for the next few years.

The TV licence fee is used to fund BBC programmes and services on TV, radio and online, including national and regional programming. This year, the BBC made £3.8 billion from the licence fee, but will have to enforce cost-saving measures if the fee is scrapped within the decade, likely by cutting back on original dramas to focus on news and sport coverage.

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The licence fee costs £159 a year per householdThe licence fee costs £159 a year per household
The licence fee costs £159 a year per household | Getty Images

How much is a TV licence?

A TV licence fee currently costs £159 per year - this can be paid in one go or monthly via a direct debit. The fee has been capped for two years but will rise with inflation from 2024. However, it is expected that the licence fee will be scrapped completely in 2027 when the BBC’s royal charter comes to an end.

If you are aged 74 and over and you or your partner living at the same address receive Pension Credit, the licence could be free. Additionally, those living in a care home or sheltered accommodation may be entitled to pay a reduced fee of £7.50. Those who are blind or visually impaired can apply for a 50% discount, and black and white TV viewers only pay £53.50. You only need one licence per household, regardless of the number of TVs and devices you use.

Do you need a TV licence to watch Netflix?

No, you do not need a TV licence to watch on demand programming on Netflix, even if you are watching it on your television. Netflix has more than 4,000 movies and almost 2,000 TV shows in its UK library. A Netflix subscription ranges from £4.99 with adverts up to £15.99 for an ad-free premium subscription.

You can watch on-demand content on most streaming services without a licence fee You can watch on-demand content on most streaming services without a licence fee
You can watch on-demand content on most streaming services without a licence fee | AA+W - stock.adobe.com

Can you watch BBC iPlayer without a TV licence?

You need a TV licence to watch programmes on BBC iPlayer whether it is on catch-up, live, or on demand on any television or device.

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Do other streaming platforms require a TV licence?

If you are watching live TV on any online TV channel - BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV or Sky Go, or YouTube - you need a TV licence, even though it is only iPlayer that receives funding from the licence fee. If you are only watching on-demand and catch-up programmes on these channels (excluding iPlayer) then you do not need a TV licence.

If you are streaming on-demand movies, TV shows and other content on other streaming services, then you do not need a TV licence to do so. This includes Disney+, Apple TV+, Paramount+, BritBox, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and FreeVee. However, these streaming services do all have a subscription fee, with the exception of Amazon FreeVee, which includes adverts. Netflix has also rolled out a cheaper streaming option which also includes adverts.

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