BBC iPlayer users in the UK will need a valid licence to use the service from September 1, even if they don’t have a TV and only watch online via a laptop or mobile.
The changes, introduced in the BBC’s white paper in May, are a significant departure from the current rules imposed by the UK’s TV licensing agency.
While non-TV owning viewers now need to have a licence to watch streaming or downloaded shows, the licensing changes have left some loopholes. Specifically, you still don’t need a licence to watch other on-demand services like Netflix or other terrestrial broadcasters’ digital platforms, like ITV Player.
There’s also the potential of extenuating circumstances for students that don’t want to shell out on a licence – as long as the device you’re watching on is powered by internal batteries and not plugged into the mains when using iPlayer, you don’t need a separate licence – the one at your parents will cover you, presuming there is one there, of course.
The BBC also suggested in May that the licence fee could become more portable, allowing people who have one to watch content while abroad on holiday; but there’s no timeline, or even confirmation, for when this will arrive.