Do you need a TV licence to watch Netflix?

You need a TV licence to watch live TV – but what about On Demand shows and films?

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Whether you’re looking to binge on The Crown, Stranger Things, The Witcher, or Black Mirror, Netflix is the streaming service for you.

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But do you need a TV licence to watch the On Demand platform? What can you watch without a TV licence? And when do you need one?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Do you need a TV licence to watch Netflix?

If you are just watching on demand or shows on catch up via a streaming platform such as Netflix you don’t need a TV licence, except if you are watching BBC iPlayer (which you need a licence for). You have to have a TV licence if you watch any live TV no matter what channel or device.

As explained on the TV licencing website, you only need a licence if you:

  • Watch or record programmes (not just BBC programmes) on a TV as they’re broadcast.
  • Watch or stream programmes live on an online TV service on any device (such as through ITV Hub, All 4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Sky Go)
  • Download or watch BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer – live, catch-up or On Demand.

As Netflix does not broadcast its titles live, you do not need a TV licence to use the service. You don’t need a licence if you only ever watch titles on-demand or on catch up on services other than BBC iPlayer.

If you watch other live TV as well as Netflix then yes you legally need a licence.

Do I need a TV licence to watch Netflix on my smartphone, tablet or laptop?

No. You don’t need to have a TV licence to watch On Demand content (outside of BBC iPlayer) on any device.

However, if the content you’re watching is being broadcast live – a sporting event through Amazon Prime Video, for instance – you will need to have a TV licence.

As long as the main address you live in is licenced, you can watch live TV (and shows on BBC iPlayer) outside your home using a device powered solely by its own internal batteries and not plugged into the mains. This includes your mobile phone, laptop and tablet.

As Netflix does not currently broadcast live TV, however, you can watch the service anywhere without a problem.

What can I watch without a TV licence?

  • Netflix
  • YouTube
  • Amazon Prime
  • DVD/Blu-Ray
  • If you don’t watch any live TV eg if you have an aerial with built-in freeview but you don’t watch any live-TV

What is a TV licence?

The TV licence costs £157.50 annually and means you can legally use your television-receiving equipment (like aerial) to watch shows as they’re shown on TV.

Simply put, if you watch a show while it’s live you need a licence. Remember that includes Sky, Virgin Media and Now TV, on your computer or an app, phone or Smart TV.

If you use BBC iPlayer then you also need a licence. For ITV Player you need a licence if it’s live. You also need a licence if you are recording to watch later.

What is the licence paying for?

The BBC is state-funded so the licence fee goes towards funding its services. You still need a TV Licence for other networks though.

What does the TV licence cover?

  • TV sets
  • computers
  • laptops
  • tablets
  • mobile phones
  • any other device that can receive a TV signal.

How long does the TV licence last?

It usually will cover you for a year.

Do I need a TV licence for Sky, Virgin or BT?

If you’re watching TV via their boxes then yes as this is still live or recording TV.

Do I always have to pay for TV licence?

You always need a TV licence as covered above, but if you have a severe vision impairment you can get one for free or discounted.

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If you’re over 75s you no longer get free TV licences (from 1st August, 2020). Only those who receive pension credit benefits will still get a free TV licence.