Some TV viewers baffled by TV terminology ahead of iPlayer law change

TV viewers struggle to understand TV terminology such as 'streaming' and 'on demand' according to a new survey1 carried out by TV Licensing.

The UK-wide study1, carried out in advance of a major change in TV Licencing regulations, suggests there may be confusion around exactly which viewing habits will be affected by the change.

When the law changes on 1 September, viewers will need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or download BBC programmes on demand – including catch up TV – on BBC iPlayer, no matter how they access it. However, the vast majority of households have a licence so are already covered.

Comparatively, 'catch up' is one of the most well understood terms with 71 per cent of those surveyed feeling they had a broad understanding of the term. However, when shown a description, only half (52 per cent) said they had been right.

For 'on demand', nearly six in 10 people (58 per cent) claimed they had a broad understanding, but only 38 per cent fully grasped the definition. Many failed to realise the term 'on demand' includes three components; catch up TV; exclusive programmes only available online; and watching a programme 'on demand' before it is shown on TV.

Between 34 and 36 per cent of respondents admitted they don't know what the term 'video streaming' means, when asked spontaneously. Although in the younger audience, more than 73 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds correctly defined 'video streaming' as watching TV, videos, programmes or films over the internet, where the video you watch is typically not stored on your device for viewing at a later date.

The survey also revealed that 70 per cent of respondents said the definition provided for 'downloading videos' at least broadly matched what they thought but 19 per cent admitted they could not define this.

When asked what 'live TV' meant, 49 per cent of respondents incorrectly attributed this activity only to live TV events or TV shown in real time, not recorded or edited. Just 37 per cent correctly defined 'live TV' as programmes shown as broadcast, or as aired, while 10 per cent admitted they could not define the phrase.

Jason Hill, TV Licensing spokesperson, said:

Some phrases are very familiar to TV viewers but others are less well-known, including important terms such as ‘on demand’. We want to let those affected know in advance about the law change on 1 September. After that date, you will need to be covered by a TV Licence to download or watch BBC programmes on demand - including catch up TV – on BBC iPlayer. This applies to all devices.

The change will not affect the huge majority of households which are already licensed. Fewer than two per cent of households only watch catch up - and only those watching BBC iPlayer as part of their catch up and on demand viewing will need to buy a licence from September.

You will not need a TV Licence to download or watch programmes on demand from other providers, such as YouTube, Netflix, ITV Hub, All 4 or Demand 5. All unlicensed households are currently being mailed.

As before, you still need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or download BBC programmes on demand on BBC iPlayer or record any live TV on any channel, no matter what device you use.

Visit the TV Licensing YouTube channel for more information about the changes.

It’s easy to buy a licence online, amend or check personal details at any time at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/info.

TV Licensing’s Guide to TV Terminology:

Term

Description

Is a TV Licence needed?

Catch up TV This is where you can watch or download TV programmes, usually for a limited period of time after they have been shown on live TV. An internet connection is needed to watch or download programmes. This can be on any online device and on connected set-top boxes. You can find catch up TV on, for example, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and My5. Yes, if watching or downloading BBC programmes on demand on iPlayer (from 1 September). Otherwise no.
On demand
(or video on demand)

On demand includes:

  • Catch up TV (streaming or downloading programmes after they’ve been shown on live TV)
  • Programmes available online before being shown on live TV
  • Exclusive programmes only available online.

People can choose their own TV programmes [or films] to watch, typically from a wide selection, via an internet connection. Services offering on demand programmes (which may not include catch up) include BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Yes, if watching or downloading BBC programmes on demand on iPlayer (from 1 September). Otherwise no.
Live TV
(including broadcast TV)
Live TV means any programme you watch or record at the same time (or virtually at the same time) as it's being shown on TV or on an online TV service such as BBC iPlayer. Yes, no matter what device you use or channel you watch.
Online TV service An online TV service is where TV programmes or films are being shown, usually at scheduled times, over the internet as opposed to via an aerial, cable or a satellite TV service. Examples include BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and My5. Yes, if watching an online TV Service or (from 1 September) downloading BBC programmes on demand on iPlayer
Recorded TV This is when you record something on live TV so that you can watch it later. Examples include Sky+, TiVo, YouView and other dedicated PVR/DVR set-top box recorders. Yes, as you are recording live TV.
Streaming (or Video streaming) Streaming means watching TV, videos, programmes or films over the internet. The video you watch is typically not stored on your device for viewing later, but some services will allow you to access it over a period of time, e.g. within 24 hours. Examples include YouTube, Now TV and Netflix Yes, if streaming live TV or (from 1 September) BBC programmes on demand on iPlayer.
Live video streaming Live video streaming means watching TV, videos, programmes or films over the internet in real time as it happens (e.g. a live sports event, or any other video which is live and not pre-recorded). The video is not stored on your device for viewing at a later date. Examples include watching BBC Parliament online, using the “watch live” function on a BBC website or watching live on an app such as Sky Go. Yes, if live video streaming live TV
Downloaded videos Downloading videos is when you transfer, save and then store a TV programme, film or other video onto a PC/laptop, set-top box, smartphone or tablet. This allows you to watch it whenever you like at a later. Examples include Sky Movies, BBC iPlayer, BT Vision and Love Film Yes, if downloading BBC programmes on demand on iPlayer (from 1 September).
Simulcasts A simulcast is when a live event is available to watch in more than one way. For example, a live music event may be shown on TV, radio and online at the same time, giving you a choice of how to enjoy it. Another example could be a radio show with a live video feed to watch the DJs or presenters, as well as listen to the audio. Yes, if watching or recording simulcasts as they are being shown on live TV.

1 Online panel survey of 16+ year olds in UK carried out by Harris Interactive, with 4,017 qualified interviews in total. 25-minutes survey, fieldwork 27-30 April 2016. Total sample is weighted to national demographics. Participants who stated they never watch any TV, video or film were screened out of the survey.

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