Advanced Television

UK students will need a licence for iPlayer

August 1, 2016

By Colin Mann

The start of the UK academic year will bring many changes for students, including, for the first time, the need to be covered by a TV Licence to download or watch BBC programmes on demand on iPlayer.

A change in the law means as of September 1st, a licence will be needed to download or watch BBC programmes on demand, including catch-up TV, on BBC iPlayer.

Research by TV Licensing – the overall body for companies used by the by the BBC to administer the collection of the television licence fees and enforcement of the television licensing system – has revealed iPlayer is the most popular catch up platform used by students, ahead of sites such as YouTube and services including Netflix.

The survey confirms that two in three students view catch-up TV, with many watching on demand programmes. With less than a quarter of students (22 per cent) taking a TV with them to university, online viewing on mobile devices has become by far the favoured way of consuming catch-up TV content.

Watching TV remains an integral part of university life with 84 per cent of students finding it gives them the chance to relax on their own and more than half (60 per cent) citing TV viewing as a great opportunity to unwind with friends.

“Watching catch up TV is really popular among students and we want to make sure students are aware of the change in law,” advised Caroline McCourt, spokesperson for TV Licensing. “From 1 September, everyone will need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch BBC TV programmes on demand – including catch up – on iPlayer. Students can check at our dedicated TV Licence for students page whether they are correctly licensed before the big move.”

“And, of course, you still need to be covered by a licence for all live viewing and recording, no matter which channel you are watching or what device you are watching on,” she confirmed.

Students who already have a licence will be covered automatically. Those who do not will need a licence from 1 September to watch BBC programmes on demand on BBC iPlayer, including where iPlayer is accessed through another provider such as Sky or Virgin.

A licence will not be needed to watch other on demand services, such as ITV Player or Netflix. This applies to all devices, including a smart TV, desktop computer or laptop, mobile phone, tablet, digital box or games console.

In limited circumstances, students can be covered by the licence at their parents’ address. The device must be powered by its own internal batteries – e.g., a tablet or mobile phone – and must not be plugged it into the mains when receiving television. This use is enabled by the Regulations governing TV Licensing.

Categories: Articles, Broadcast, Business, Catch Up, FTA, Policy, Regulation, VOD