Do you need a TV licence to watch Amazon Prime, Netflix & other streaming services?

Like many other people nowadays, I can’t remember the last time that I turned the TV on and watched the actually TV. Aside from sports, which I was via a Firestick, there’s really nothing that I’m interested in watching on TV that I can’t find on a streaming service.

And with Amazon Prime and Netflix having more TV shows and films than ever, it seems like the perfect time to stop paying your TV license. But.. hang on. Do you actually need a TV licence to watch these streaming services, or can you get rid of your licence and carry on watching your favourite shows online instead?

Do you need a TV licence to watch Amazon Prime?

The correct answer is that the majority of the time you don’t need a TV licence to watch streaming services like Amazon Prime, Netflix or any other. This is because these services are allowing you to watch pre-recorded films and TV shows, which a TV licence isn;t necessary for. However, there are some exceptions to this.

For example, recently Amazon Prime have started showing a football game or too, as they’ve bought the rights for this. You can also subscribe to the discovery channel too, which like sports, is also streamed live. Anything that’s streamed live as it’s aired, you’ll need to have a TV licence for.

This applies to any streaming service, and it will also apply to Netflix if they choose to start live streaming shows in the not too distant future. This will apply to anything that you watch live through any of these streaming services; BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4, Sky Go, Virgin Media, BT TV, Apple TV, Now TV, YouTube, Roku and Amazon Prime Video.

So to put it simply, if it’s live, you need a TV licence. If it’s not, then you don’t!

What devices am I covered to use?

If you’re going to get a TV licence, then you’ll want to know which devices are covered by your licence. The rule is that any device that can receive a TV signal will be covered by your licence. This includes;

Your Computer
Mobile Phone

Common Questions about TV Licensing

Can I record live shows and watch them later without a TV licence?

No, you can’t record shows and watch them later without a TV licence- this is also the same for catch up, which is considered to be recorded too. You can’t watch anything live, and you can’t watch the recordings of anything that was streamed live either.

Do you need a TV licence to watch BBC iPlayer?

Yes, if you’re going to watch BBC iPlayer then you need to make sure that you have a TV licence in place. They’re the whole reason we need to pay for a licence in the first place – more than 90% of the fees we pay go to the BBC!

Do you need a TV licence to watch NOW TV?

Now TV is a more complex one, because many of the films and TV shows on there are pre-recorded and not live. If you only watch these films and TV shows through NOW TV, then no, you wouldn’t need a TV licence. However if you’re buying NOW TV to use the Sky Sports Season Pass for example, you would need a TV licence, because this is live streamed.

Do I need a licence if I use a Virgin or Sky Box?

You’ll still have to pay for a TV licence if you’re watching TV through one of the big broadcasting companies, like Sky or Virgin. This is true even if you’re only using the box to watch TV shows and films that are pre-recorded.

What is “live tv”?

This includes any show that you’ll find one TV – sports, soap operas, documentaries, the news and much more. So, it’s okay to watch an old documentary on Netflix without a TV licence. But, you can’t watch repeats of a new series.


All in all, for the most part you won’t have to have a TV licence to watch any of these online streaming services. Let’s hope that in the not too distant future, the whole TV licence is scrapped altogether, as more and more people turn away from it in favour of the ability to watch whatever they want, whenever they want.

If you want to get a TV with Netflix and Amazon Prime installed, then check out this list of 24 inch Smart TV’s. These TV’s will come with these apps and freeview installed too, and they’re relatively budget friendly too!

About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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