At the moment of writing, there is absolutely no reason for you to pay for the BBC’s TV License if you only watch programmes broadcast on their iPlayer (though you do need one for watching live TV through it).
That wonderful time is coming to an end.
“The BBC works on the basis that all who watch it pay for it,” said culture secretary John Whittingdale yesterday at the Oxford Media Convention. “When the licence fee was invented, video on demand did not exist. Giving a free ride to those who enjoy Sherlock or Bake Off an hour, a day, or a week after they’re broadcast was never intended and is wrong.”
Essentially, if you want to watch any BBC content at all, you'll need to pay a license fee as soon as Whittingdale's new secondary legislation is passed - which could realistically be by the end of the summer.
Currently priced at £145.50 for the year, the new license fee loophole closing has drawn criticism, with others suggesting the BBC offers more content than ever.
Genuine question: why does Netflix cost £6.99 yet soon a TV Licence to watch BBC iPlayer will cost £145.50?— William Crisp (@wtCrisp) March 2, 2016
There is a lot to be said for the BBC taking this route: the Licence Fee is the only way they make money to fund further programming, so if a loop hole exists that encourages many to only bother watching it for 'free' on the iPlayer, it could seriously damage the BBC's potential to keep making content.
Failure to pay the license fee is against the law - so you can expect the BBC to clamp down on those accessing its content in any form without a TV Licence.