Can You Watch WWE Content Without A TV Licence UK? (TV/Network/YouTube)

The WWE (formerly WWF) Sports Entertainment brand has been popular in the UK for several decades at least now, attracting lots of viewers (I remember the old days of watching the VHS videos taped off Sky back in the late 90s – giving away my age).

And to be fair to WWE, they are extremely customer friendly, having LOTS of different ways to consume their content across many different channels (YouTube, PPV, WWE network etc). Which can make everything a bit confusing for UK based WWE fans – do we need a TV licence to stream or watch WWE content?

A TV Licence is required to watch any WWE content as it’s being broadcast on TV or their network, whether live or pre-recorded. This includes live PPVs and shows. A TV Licence is not required to consume on demand content on the WWE network or their YouTube channel, that is not currently being broadcast elsewhere.

In other words, it’s their main weekly shows like Raw and Smackdown being shown on TV, plus live pay-per-views, that you need to watch out for. A TV Licence is required to watch these live, or as they are being broadcast. When you choose to consume non live content yourself from a WWE content library/catalogue, that’s when you have some more freedom.

But the “live” issue can still cause some confusion, so let’s be even more precise in what you can/cannot watch.

The Rules On Watching Content in the UK & TV Licence

Let’s give a simple bottom line answer from UK TV Licensing themselves on what the rules are regarding consuming content with/without a TV licence within the UK:

“If you use a laptop (or any other device) to watch or record television programmes as they are being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, or to download or watch BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer, then, by law, you need to be covered by a TV Licence and you are committing an offence if you don’t have one.”

TV Licensing Website

I italicized the “as they are being shown on TV” bit, as this is often what causes the most confusion. A Television show can be “being broadcast” and shown right now on TV, even if the show itself is not live and is actually pre-recorded, and that’s the nuance to the issue.

Basically, you DO need a TV licence to watch EITHER one of these things:

  1. Live TV – Watching any show as it’s being broadcast live on TV (this would include live editions of Raw/SmackDown etc, plus live PPVs).
  2. Broadcast TV – Watching any show that’s simply being broadcast live on a TV station or online TV service at that moment, even if the content itself is pre-recorded and not actually live (this would include pre-recorded Raw/SmackDown shows on TV, plus repeats of PPVs being broadcast on a TV station or their network).

The medium or device you’re watching on is irrelevant. If you’re wanting to watch some kind of WWE content that is also simultaneously being broadcast on some other channel or medium (whether the show itself is live or not), you’ll need a TV Licence when watching from within the UK.

Currently, BT Sport and Channel 5 hold broadcast rights to WWE content in the UK, so it’s mainly these two channels you need to watch..

What WWE Content You Can Stream Without A TV Licence UK

Let’s start with the good news of what you CAN watch and stream perfectly legally from within the UK without needing a TV licence. It basically revolves around non-live, on demand content the user specifically selects themselves rather than watching something that’s already being broadcast somewhere else.

Some examples of this of this would include:

  1. Watching videos on their YouTube channel of non-live content (past shows, past matches, compilation videos, historical matches, interviews, podcasts etc), as long as they’re not being broadcast anywhere else at that moment.
  2. Streaming any on demand, non live content from their WWE Network, including past shows, past PPVs, past matches, interviews, podcasts, documentaries, etc, as long as they’re not currently being broadcast on the Network or elsewhere at that moment.
  3. Watching any content on the BT Sport/Channel 5 on demand or catch-up players, as long as that show is not currently being broadcast on either of those stations (purely catch-up content).
  4. Watching any WWE content from outside the UK (even if the event is in the UK), in a country that does not have a TV Licence law.

And that’s really it. Their WWE Network is a great resource for historical fans – you can consume a massive amount of on demand content there without needing a TV licence, as you’re choosing and streaming the content yourself from a catalogue rather than watching something that’s already being broadcast somewhere else.

What WWE Content You Cannot Stream Without A TV Licence UK

Now let’s specifically define the types of WWE content you cannot watch in the UK without a TV licence:

  1. Watching live PPVs from within a TV service in the UK (currently, this is on BT Sport packages from the TNT Box Office Channel).
  2. Streaming live shows or PPVs from the WWE Network from within the UK (TV Licence required). This includes any Raw/Smackdown shows also being broadcast by another network even if the show itself is not live.
  3. Therefore, watching weekly broadcasts of WWE programming on BT Sport (TNT Channel) or Channel 5 (Sunday tape delay broadcasts of Raw/Smackdown) as they are being shown on those stations requires a TV licence.
  4. Watching any other WWE content on the WWE Network that is being broadcast/streamed live at that very moment (shows, podcasts, interviews, etc) and is not simply a catch-up piece of content uploaded to the network to be streamed whenever the user wants.
  5. If any WWE content were ever to make it to BBC iPlayer (not the case right now), you’d need a licence to watch all content on iPlayer, live or not.

To watch any of this WWE content from within the UK, you DO need a TV licence. Again, it’s consuming their content/shows live, or at least as being broadcast, that’s the defining factor as to whether you need a TV Licence or not. On demand content of various kinds is more open.

Useful Resources

The whole issue of live vs being broadcast can be confusing – hopefully we’ve cleared it up in this post. Basically, it’s purely 100% on demand content that is not live or being broadcast elsewhere and that you choose yourself from a catalogue/library/channel, where you’ve more freedom to watch without a licence.

Here’s a couple of other resources to help out with understanding TV Licensing law in the UK:

  • TV Licensing website – answers a lot of FAQs regarding this issue.
  • Chill Jon Carne YouTube – Great channel that is the one stop shop for understanding everything regarding TV licensing in the UK, including what you can and cannot watch. Binge watching his content for a while, especially his FAQ videos, will make it more clear what is and not allowed without a licence.


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