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Do You Need a TV Licence To Watch Netflix or YouTube?


You don’t have a TV in your home but consume your daily dose of content on your phone or computer. 

You thought you didn’t need a TV licence, but you’ve received some confusing information from the TV Licencing organization that suggests otherwise.  

So, do you need a TV licence to watch Netflix or YouTube? How about Twitch? 

When do you need a TV licence? 

Keep reading to find out! 

TV Licence Summary Table

TV licence rules can be confusing, but this table can help. 

I Am Watching or Recording… Do I Need a TV Licence?
On-demand content on a streaming website (e.g., Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.) No
On-demand videos on a video sharing platform (e.g., YouTube, DailyMotion, etc.) No
Independent creators on a live streaming website (e.g., Twitch, YouNow, etc.)No
DVDs on my TV, laptop, or video game console No
Live broadcast television on my TVYes
Live broadcast television on an online streaming platform (e.g. the news, sports games, e.g.)Yes
Any programmes or channels on BBC iPlayerYes

Do You Need a TV Licence To Watch Netflix?

No, you do not need a TV licence to watch Netflix. 

hand holding a remote towards a TV with Netflix logo on

Don’t worry. You’re not going to have a TV licencing inspector show up at your door for watching Netflix without a TV licence. 

Netflix is an online streaming service that only shows on-demand content and, currently, does not feature an option to watch live broadcast TV.  

So, it is not considered a live online TV service, making it unnecessary to pay an additional £13 a month to watch it. 

Do You Need a TV Licence to Watch YouTube?

You may need a TV licence to watch YouTube, depending on what you watch. 

woman holding popcorn and watching TV with YouTube logo on the screen

You need a TV licence to watch certain content on YouTube. 

For instance, if you enjoy watching live news, like Aljazeera Live, you need a TV licence. This is because you’re watching a channel’s live broadcast online like you would on your TV. 

However, you don’t need a TV licence to watch YouTuber’s live videos or premiers. 

You also don’t need a TV licence to watch your favorite on-demand videos on YouTube or original series on YouTube Red. 

This includes clips and snippets of recorded videos from live broadcast television, like the news. 

Can I Watch Twitch Streams Without a TV Licence? 

Yes, you can watch Twitch streams without a TV licence. 

Twitch app and logo on LG TV

Although Twitch streams are live, you do not need a TV licence to watch them since they’re produced and aired by individual creators rather than TV broadcasting channels. 

Therefore, they’re not considered live broadcast television, and you absolutely do not need a TV licence to watch them. 

What Can I Watch Without a TV Licence?

You can watch several different forms of content without a TV licence. 

Let’s learn what you don’t need a TV licence to watch.  

On-Demand Content on Streaming Services 

You don’t need a TV licence to watch any on-demand content on streaming services. 

Netflix app on TV screen playing Squid Game behind a popcorn bowl and remote control

On-demand means that the video is readily available, so you don’t have to tune in at a certain time to watch it live. 

This includes movies and series on streaming websites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Mubi, Disney Plus, HBO, and so on. 

Additionally, you also don’t need a TV licence to watch on-demand online videos from video-sharing platforms like YouTube or DailyMotion. 

Live Streaming Sites 

If you enjoy watching live streams from your favorite gamers, have no fear. You don’t need a TV licence. 

Websites like Twitch, YouNow, and Stream Yard do not require a TV licence since you’re turning in to see videos by individual and independent creators. 

DVDs

Do you prefer watching your movies or TV series using good old-fashioned DVDs and a DVD player or your computer’s DVD drive? 

woman putting a DVD into DVD player in her flat

If the answer is “Yes,” you don’t need a TV license. 

You’re not watching live broadcast television or a recording of it that you took yourself, making a TV licence unnecessary. 

When Do I Need a TV Licence?

There are a few instances where it’s necessary to have a TV licence. 

If you do any of the below actions, you need a TV licence. 

Note that you still need a TV licence even if you watch the listed content on a tablet, computer, or phone. 

If You Watch or Record Live Broadcast TV Channels on a TV

You must have a TV licence if you watch or record any live broadcast television. 

young man watching Live News on TV

Note that live broadcast television doesn’t necessarily need to be live, like live 24/7 news. Scheduled programmes on television are also considered live broadcast television. 

You still need a TV licence even if you record the television programme to watch later on.

If You Watch or Record Live Content via an Online TV Service 

You need a TV licence to watch or record live broadcast television via an online TV service. 

For instance, you need a TV licence to watch live broadcast news channels on YouTube or a sports game on Amazon Prime. 

Remember, you only need a TV licence to watch this specific content on these sites, not to use the sites in general. 

Watch Any Programmes on BBC iPlayer

Most of the money from UK TV licences goes towards funding BBC, so it remains ad-free. 

Therefore, you need a TV licence to watch any programme on BBC iPlayer. This includes both the live broadcast TV channels and on-demand content. 

The video below clearly explains what you need a TV licence to watch. 

TV Licence Rules What You Can And Can't Watch In Less Than 5 Minutes

Wrapping Things Up

You can watch content online without the fear of being fined thousands of pounds for not paying for a TV licence. 

If you’re unsure if you need a TV licence, ask yourself the following questions: 

Are you watching live broadcast television on a TV or on another device? 

Are you watching on-demand programmes on BBC iPlayer? 

If the answer to both of these questions is “No,” you’re good to go! 

If you have any more questions about TV licences and whether you need one or not, contact TV Licencing via a virtual assistant chat, email, or phone. 

What’s your experience purchasing a TV licence? Let us know in the comments below! 


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