A BBC Subscription Would Cost £453/year VS £157 TV Licence

This post may contain affiliate links*

A new report from the BBC says that if one was to subscribe to the range of media the BBC currently offers, instead of the current TV Licence fee model, then that subscription would end up costing £453/year (or £37/month).

This week, the BBC published a “Value for Audience” report, that looks at the various ways the corporation has been saving money and cutting costs, and what the BBC itself – and the licence fee used to fund it – are worth to the British public.

In light of the new report, the BBC Director-general also spoke about the suggested licence fee decriminalisation, and what will happen to BBC shows on Netflix (see ahead).

The TV Licence fee currently stands at £157.50/year. Anyone who watches the BBC live, or via the BBC iPlayer app, has to pay it.

Furthermore, if you watch any type of live TV from any broadcaster (even international ones), you also need to pay the fee (See our full guide on whether you need to pay the TV Licence fee or not).

TV Licence infographic 2020

“The BBC is providing much more to audiences now, for less”, the new report mentions. “The licence fee costs less in real terms today, at £157.50 per year, than it did in 2010/11 when the cost was the equivalent of £178 in 2019/20 prices.”

However, at £13/month, the TV Licence fee is still higher than the cost of competing TV services, such as Netflix (£9.99/month for the standard plan) or Disney+ (Currently £5.99/month).


BBC iPlayer vs Netflix

But with the ongoing discussions about possibly transforming the mandatory TV Licence fee into an optional subscription service, the report also looks at what the BBC offers (Television, radio and the news website), and how to translate that into monetary value.

“Compared with the market, the BBC continues to be very good value for money”, the report says. “Each hour of BBC TV watched by a household costs it around 9p, on average.

“For an equivalent subscription video-on-demand service that is around 15p, and for an equivalent pay-TV service it starts at well over 50p per hour. Radio also provides great value for money. Each hour of BBC radio listening costs each household about 3p, on average.

“If one was to purchase the range of media offered through the licence fee, then a bundle of subscriptions providing advertising-free high-quality services comparable with those delivered by BBC across video, audio and news would cost £453.45 per year in comparison with the current licence fee of £157.50.”

The report also compares the licence fee with other common leisure activities: “The price paid for the licence fee in 2020/21 is equivalent to the price of only five Premier League match tickets, three London theatre tickets, six zoo visits or 22 cinema tickets.”

Tim Davie, the current BBC director-general, has already spoken in the past against turning the BBC into a subscription-based service, saying that while they might make “a decent business out of it”, it would make the BBC “just another media company serving a specific group”, instead of serving wider groups of the population.

Tim Davie BBC director general
Tim Davie, BBC DG (Photo: BBC)

TV Licence Decriminalisation And BBC on Netflix

Following the publication of the Value for Audience report, Mr Davie also spoke with the Reform think-tank, where he addressed the hot-topic of TV licence fee decriminalisation.

As we reported last month, the government decided to leave the current criminal sanctions on evading the licence fee where they are, for at least two years, with evaders risking a £1,000 fine or, in rare cases, even going to jail.

Asked about his opinion on the matter, Mr Davie congratulated the government on its decision:

“Bravo. Logic prevailed, simple as that. It was a bad idea. It didn’t stack up. I’m very pleased.”

In his conversation with Reform, Mr Davie also addressed the issue of many BBC programmes (such as Line of Duty, Sherlock and others) ending up on Netflix – even in the UK.

Sherlock BBC
Sherlock (Photo: BBC)

In fact, it was mentioned that some people don’t even bother going to BBC iPlayer to search for BBC content, and instead – wait for it to come up on Netflix.

“Some people say, why don’t you just put your content everywhere, it’ll be fine. It wouldn’t”, said Mr Davie.

And so according to him, fewer BBC programmes will end up on Netflix in the future. “That person waiting for a BBC show to come to Netflix will get increasingly disappointed.”

A possible sign of that was seen last month, when all the newer seasons of Doctor Who were removed from Netflix in the UK.

man watchin streaming tv on tablet

Get Cord Buster's Free UK TV Streaming Cheatsheet


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get TV And Tech News

Get Bonus Streaming TV Guide