When budgeting at university, there is no doubt that every little helps. For the most part, students are reliant on their laptop screens as a means of switching off from academia and catching up on their old favourites or the most popular newest releases. Which may leave you wondering: do I need a TV licence to watch Netflix? Even on my laptop? That extra £159 per year for a standard licence is definitely not ideal and especially not when you’re already on a budget as it is. However, paying the fee isn’t always necessary, so save yourself the panic because obsessing over your favourites doesn’t have to eat into your bank balance! Find out if you need a TV licence here!

What is a TV Licence?

do I need a TV licence
Source: BBC

Paid to the UK Government, the TV Licence fee should be paid by every household in which any resident is watching either live television or using BBC iPlayer on any device able to receive a TV signal. Over 90% of the money from this fee is allocated to the BBC – for the production of both TV and radio shows in addition to maintaining the BBC iPlayer service and other online content. That’s why the BBC has a remit to produce content suitable to ‘inform, educate and entertain’ every single potential audience demographic. Because it’s more than likely that their money is contributing to continuing their high production values! While the remainder isn’t much, a fraction of this fee is also used to pay for other services and production costs, although it is definitely more important to consider the importance of the TV Licence in terms of funding the UK’s biggest Public Service Broadcaster, the BBC. Without people paying the TV Licence, how would we have access to some of the most iconic, best quality shows like Killing Eve and EastEnders?

How much does a TV Licence cost?

TV Licence laws
Source: TV Licensing UK

In a single household, a £159 TV Licence fee covers the watching of any shows, either live or on BBC iPlayer for an entire year, regardless of the device used to stream this content. However, you can pay this sum in several methods as to not break the bank right away. While this annual fee can be taken all at once, you can also pay monthly or quarterly – or if you have a TV Licensing payment card, there is much more lenience with the frequency in which you pay this fee. Likewise, there are suitable considerations made for alternative circumstances, as those with visual impairments could be eligible for a discounted licence.

What do you need a TV Licence for?

do I need a TV licence to watch netflix
Source: BBC iPlayer

Despite this concept being relatively self-explanatory, if you’re using a TV to watch or record shows as they are broadcast, you need to have paid your TV Licence fee. However, this fee is not limited to watching shows on an actual TV because as aforementioned, the payment of this fee helps contribute to the funding of productions made by the BBC. Therefore, if you are watching any BBC content either live or via BBC iPlayer on a device other than a TV, you are required to hold a valid licence. Similarly, if you are using any alternate online TV services such as ITV Hub, Amazon Prime, Now TV or All 4 to watch television live as it is being broadcasted, your household is required to have a TV Licence. It’s likely that if you’ve used these services before, you will have been met with the question ‘Does your household currently have a TV Licence?’ to which you may have answered ‘Yes’ without a second thought. But be cautious once you leave home, as you can be fined up to £1000 if you watch or record live TV without having access to a TV Licence.

Do you need a TV Licence to watch Netflix?

smart TV TV licence rules
Source: Netflix UK

Students, breathe that sigh of relief because if you’re only planning on using Netflix as your choice of streaming service – you don’t need to fork out for a TV Licence. Because this service never streams any shows or movies live, there is no need to pay anything more than your subscription cost in order to access the top-quality content you’ve been craving.

What else can you do without a TV Licence?

TV licence rules
Source: GOV.UK

Not only can the Netflix fanatics now stop living in fear of fines, but there are actually a few more services you can access without paying the TV Licence fee. If you ever want to watch a show outside of BBC iPlayer, that you know you’re unable to catch live – there’s nothing stopping you from accessing it On-Demand via other streaming platforms on any accessible device. So long as you’re not watching any live coverage through these websites or apps, you’re all good to go. Equally, you can take advantage of any other services similar to Netflix, such as Now TV, Amazon Prime Video or YouTube, as long as the productions aren’t being broadcasted live.

If dragging a TV set all the way to university and setting yourself back on some pretty significant funds doesn’t sound like something you’re a fan of, then rest assured there are still entertainment options out there. As long as you’ve got a device capable of streaming your favourite content online, in addition to accessing any relevant subscriptions, you should be more than ready for relaxation. However, remember to stay vigilant of the content you’re accessing online – if you’re asked before streaming if you have a valid TV License, don’t fall into the trap of answering ‘Yes’ when you don’t. It’s definitely not worth that substantial £1000 fine!