Do I Have To Pay For On Demand TV Shows?

Author: Sean

We are used to having to pay a premium for our entertainment. We pay to watch movies. We pay to watch TV. Even from the comfort of our own house, we pay for these as a luxury.

Over the past number of years on demand channels have risen in popularity. We’ve moved from going out to a shop to hire or pay for a TV to ordering a digital copy which we watch through a streaming service.

With the word of action above being paycan we watch any on demand tv for free?


What does On Demand mean?

What does on demand mean? The definition of ‘on demand’ is getting immediate access to something. It could also mean obtaining something without delay or trouble.

On demand means that you can choose what TV show to watch and when to watch it.

On-demand, or demand TV refers to the ability for viewers to select programs from a menu of options, rather than having them scheduled by outside programmers.

On-demand is also used in other contexts where the consumer has the ability to decide when they purchase what they want, rather than ordering it at a specific time or date. For example, on-demand streaming services like Netflix allow viewers to select which episode they want to watch at any given time.

What channels do we have to pay for?

Let’s begin with examining what channels we do have to pay for. In this category I see two funnels of channel type to talk about.

New digital content providers

The first collection of channels are those that have always been just a streaming service. These would be services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime (just to mention 2). The business model of these channels has always been a pay to view.

You subscribe for a monthly cost and you can stream any amount of content they have in their library. I find that there is so much content that you could not watch it all. Especially with new content being added weekly including content they have created themselves.

The content is a mixture of your classic TV shows and film. The two large players mentioned above even have their own film and TV service productions being made. This is really making them a force to be reckoned with in the digital on demand content landscape.

I would have to say, if you had limited funds to pay for providers then I would certainly choose one of these – which one depends on your own likes.

Old school content providers

The next collection of channels are those that have been providing over the air, satellite and channel TV and film content to us for years. I like to call these the old school content providers.

These are channels, providers, that you have probably grown up with. An example from here in the UK would be BBC and ITV. In the USA we’re probably talking about content providers such as HBO.

You’ve probably grown up watching these on your TV; viewing your programs in the weekly schedule time-slots they controlled.

These providers have now joined this digital revolution of on demand content providing. Each of these big players has their own apps that will run on most of the digital TV boxes; allowing you to watch their content on demand when you want to.

These are the channels that many will be thinking about when they wonder if they have to play for the on demand TV Shows. 

So are these channels free?

The real answer to this question is both yes and no. If the channel is something you would have to pay for to watch on-air TV then the streaming service usually costs as part of this subscription. 

What that means is, that, if you only stream on-demand (like me), you would need to pay a premium subscription for that channel. If you have 2 or 3 channels like this, then you may have to pay for each one as a separate subscription.

There maybe bundles to consider. What I mean by that is that some providers may provide a number of channels for a single subscription cost. An example of this can be seen by the NowTV subscription in the UK.

For a cost, NowTV will provide to you a number of the Sky Satellite channels. At this moment, this is because NowTV is a subsidiary (or owned by) Sky TV.

On the other side of this coin, the no answer; there are a number of channels that you don’t have to pay a subscription to. Another great example of this in the UK are the terrestrial channels such as ITV, Channel 4 and 5. I would add BBC to that list as you don’t need to pay for a subscription – though you do need to pay for a TV license.

Each country will have their own free channels which may have originated from older terrestrial channels.

Then there are the 3rd party channels that have arisen because of the ease of creating online streaming on today’s Internet.

These 3rd party channels range from people putting up their own content to channels showing old movies and TV shows. Personally, I’ve wanted many classic movies on these often free channels.

There are some channels that try to charge a subscription – there are many that don’t which gives you hours and hours of free video content.

Was this the answer you were looking for?

I hope that I’ve given you the answer to the question in this post. Do I have to pay for on demand TV Shows?

For the current premium content, the latest movies and TV shows, the answer in most cases is – Yes. You will need to subscribe to a premium content provider and these usually have a cost associated with them.

The good news is that the subscription cost is usually great value for money and the content provided is of a high quality and quantity.

There are also those channels that you don’t have to pay for. You could just view these channels as many of them have a big library of free content to watch. These channels are also, often, those channels that will have originated from terrestrial, be showing the soaps and shows you want to watch, and allowing you to watch them for free on-demand at your convenience.

You could watch all content on free channels – but paying for 1 premium channel at the minimum opens up so much more content for you to watch.

Personally, if I had to stop all my subscriptions but 1, I would find it hard but think Netflix would be my choice to keep.

That said, you may enjoy the content of another provider – so you will already know which ones you are prepared to pay for,

Over all, on demand TV is a choice. You are choosing to watch your content when you want to watch it. You may already have all the subscriptions in place and so won’t need to change this. The only thing you will be changing is you ability to watch your shows when you want to – free or premium.


  • Denise Shea

    I’ve been wondering where and when I can watch “The Young and the Restless” for free? Some I’ve seen for “On Demand” and confuses me as to whether it’s still free on CBS and if so what time is it coming on?

  • Do I hav e to pay to watch The News With Shepard Smith/on demand/cnbc/nbc

    • A

      I’m not sure about every program or channel. The channel you use to view the program should tell you if you need to pay or not.

      Thanks for asking

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