• BBC iPlayer
iPlayer Help How-to Guides Do I need a TV Licence to watch iPlayer?

Do I need a TV Licence to watch iPlayer?

You need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or download BBC programmes on iPlayer – live, catch-up or on-demand – on any device

BBC iPlayer support can only offer support with using BBC iPlayer. If you have questions about the TV Licence (i.e. if you think you may be exempt or you aren't sure about licence requirements call TV Licensing on 0300 790 6071 or visit the TV Licensing website.

Watching live:

That means watching or recording at the same time (or virtually the same time) as they’re being broadcast, or distributed to the public in any other way. In BBC iPlayer, you do this using the Watch Live (simulcast) option. Anyone in the UK watching or recording television as it's being broadcast or simulcast on any device – including mobiles, laptops and PCs – must, by law, be covered by a valid TV Licence.

If you already have a TV Licence (including the free TV Licence to those over 75) you’ll be unaffected by this change.

As a general rule, if you’re watching a programme on a computer or other device at the same time as it’s being shown on TV, then the programme is “live” so you need a TV Licence. If you use the live rewind function to restart a live programme or rewind a live stream for up to 2 hours, you also need a TV Licence. This is because you’re still accessing the live simulcasts.

Watching On-Demand:

Any programme you download or watch that is not being shown as live TV, including catch-up TV is On-Demand. These programmes can be accessed on the BBC iPlayer website or through an app on a smart TV, digital box or any other device. On demand also includes exclusive programmes that are only available online. You must also be covered by a valid TV Licence if watching programmes this way.

What will happen if I don't have a TV licence?

It is a criminal offence to watch live TV on any channel or BBC programmes on iPlayer without a TV Licence. It’s also a criminal offence to possess or control a device which you know or reasonably believe will be used to watch live TV on any channel or BBC programmes on iPlayer without a TV Licence. You could be prosecuted and fined up to £1000 (plus legal costs) for these offences.

Was this helpful?

Sorry about that. Please take a second to tell us what's wrong with it.

Thanks for your feedback

Need more help?