What can I watch without paying for a TV licence?

On Monday, the BBC announced over-75s will need their licence fees means tested.

What this means is households with nobody receiving Pension Credit, from June 2020, will now have to pay for the licence.

This will affect around 3.7 million households, all of which previously received a free licence but will now have to pay for one.

That’s a little more than £150 per year.

But it is still possible to enjoy your favourite shows and watch catch-up TV without paying for a TV licence, however viewers will need to be careful – it’s not as simple as just avoiding anything broadcast by the BBC.

If you want to continue using BBC iPlayer then you’ll need a licence, but you won’t if you use other catch-up sites under certain conditions.

Confused? Let us break it down for you.

  • The key points to remember

There are options out there as long as you stick to certain conditions. Credit: PA

One of the most important things to remember is that it’s illegal to watch a live programme, show or event – like a football match, for example – without a licence.

It doesn’t matter what device you’re using – if it’s live TV, then you need a licence.

TV Licensing defines live TV as: “Any programme you watch or record as it’s being shown on TV or live on any online TV service.

“It’s not just live events like sport, news and music. It covers all programmes on any channel, including soaps, series, documentaries and even movies.”

This means you need a licence if you watch or record shows as they’re being broadcast on TV.

But if you’re watching a catch-up show or something on demand and you’re not using BBC iPlayer, then you won’t need a licence.

Watching DVDs or Blu-rays is also fine.

Don’t forget too that TV licences apply per address, so you’re covered if you live in a shared house as just the one licence will cover everyone there.

  • How much does it cost and how do I pay?

There are different payment options. Credit: PA

A TV licence will set you back £154.50 over a year for colour TV and £52 for black and white screens.

Viewers can pay online or by direct debit and can spread the cost over the year to pay weekly, monthly, quarterly or even fortnightly.

However, when paying monthly you will be expected to pay the entire fee for your first year over the first six months. This will then be cut down to around £12.87 per month for the following 12 months.

You can pay on the TV Licensing website.

  • So what services can you use without a licence?

Netflix is one option. Credit: PA

As long as you aren’t watching live TV, there are a number of catch-up options and subscriptions out there for safe viewing.

Remember that you cannot watch BBC iPlayer without a licence in any case but you can use ITV Hub, All 4, and My5.

The key here is to avoid watching programmes that are being shown on live TV at the same time.

Subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are safe as their programmes don’t appear on a TV channel at the same time.

YouTube is free and you won’t need a licence for that either.