The move comes after the government said it would “modernise the current licence fee system” and close the ‘iPlayer loophole’ as part of its White Paper on the future of the public broadcaster, published In May.
The law change, which marks the first time that UK viewers will be required to pay to access non-live BBC programming via the web, comes into affect ahead of the next academic year.
Research by TV Licensing claims that among students online viewing on mobile devices has become “by far the favoured way of consuming catch up TV content”.
Just 22% of students take a TV to university but 66% view catch-up TV, with iPlayer the most popular catch-up platform, according to the TV Licensing stats.
“Watching catch up TV is really popular among students and we want to make sure students are aware of the change in law. 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,” said TV Licensing spokesperson, Caroline McCourt.
The new rules apply to all devices used to access iPlayer – including laptops, smartphones, tablets, TV streaming devices and games consoles. However, a TV licence will still not be needed for watching other on demand services, such as ITV Player, All4 or Netflix.
In its White Paper earlier this year, the government said that the current Licence Fee model of financing the BBC should remain in place for the coming 11-year Charter period, but pointed to areas where a subscription model could be trialled.
The government said it welcomed “the BBC’s commitment to develop and test some form of additional subscription services during the first part of the next Charter period, and to consider whether elements of subscription could provide a more sustainable funding model in the longer term”.