You need to pay to watch BBC iPlayer from September

Family watching TV

Viewers of the BBC’s online catch-up service, iPlayer, need to ensure they have a TV licence to watch or download programmes from today.

The government announced earlier this year that online viewers, who until today used the iPlayer service for free to catch up on shows that have already been broadcast, would have to pay the same licence fee as live TV users, which currently stands at £145.50 a year.

The government had originally planned for this change to take force from 2017, but it reneged on this, and the change takes effect today.


If you don’t have a licence, you risk a fine of up to £1,000 in the UK and the Isle of Man (or up to £2,000 in Guernsey and £500 in Jersey), plus any legal costs and/or compensation you may be ordered to pay.

Jason Hill, TV Licensing spokesperson, says: “The change will not affect the huge majority of households which are already licensed. Fewer than 2% of households only watch catch up - and only those watching BBC iPlayer as part of their catch-up and on-demand viewing will need to buy a licence from September.”

So what exactly do I need a licence for?

You will need a licence to:

  • download or watch BBC programmes on demand, including catch-up TV on BBC iPlayer, no matter what device you use;
  • access BBC iPlayer through any other provider, such as Freeview, Freesat, YouView, Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Apple, Roku or Amazon and to
  • watch or record programmes as they are being shown on TV, or live on an online TV service – on any channel.


Do I need a licence if I only watch other on-demand services?

You won't need a licence to:

  • download or watch S4C TV (the Welsh language broadcaster) on demand on BBC iPlayer, or to listen to the radio on BBC iPlayer; or to
  • download or watch programmes on demand from providers other than BBC iPlayer, such as ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5, BT Vision, Virgin Media, Sky Go, Netflix, Now TV, Apple, Roku or Amazon.


How do I buy a TV licence?

You can buy or renew your licence online at They currently cost £145.50.

I already have a TV licence. Do I need another one?

No. If you already have a TV licence, you don’t need to buy another one. One licence will cover you regardless of whether you watch the BBC live, or via a catch-up service, or via both.  

What if I have a free licence?

Those aged 75 and over will continue to get the licence for free - unless you live on Guernsey or on the Isle of Man where the scheme is stopping for new applicants.

Residents who already have a free over-75 licence will continue to benefit from the concession in Guernsey, where it will be renewed automatically. In the Isle of Man, residents the free licence will continue until it expires. In both areas, those on income support can get help paying the licence – so check this. 

You do, however, have to apply for this - you don’t get it automatically. You can apply via the TV Licencing website.

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Your Comments

Regarding the rules on TV licencing. I can undertand that if you watch BBC programmes that you need a TV licence. However i have been advised by TV licencing that you need a TV licence if you watch any kind of live TV by any means. i only watch Italian Tv via a sattelite. I find this unfair, i don't even have an airiel to take the tranmissions.
So i feel the article you have just run is not telling the whole truth, and TV licencing are taking advantage from wherever they can to make money even from thoughs who don't watch the BBC.

Hi Andy_59,

Thanks for your feedback, you are correct.

We do however state in the piece that you need a licence to "watch or record programmes as they are being shown on TV, or live on an online TV service – on any channel."

Best wishes,


does this mean that the BBC will make access avaialble whilst abroad now?

Hi Portland Bill - the BBC say that no, this won't let you view from abroad. They recommend downloading the show onto your computer from iPlayer while you're still in the UK. Not very helpful for soaps etc., I know :(