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Which channels are on Netflix?

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Tablet TV: Netflix doesn't have 'channels' as such

It’s a common misunderstanding for people who aren’t familiar with the service, but Netflix doesn’t have channels. It’s not a TV service in the same way as Sky or a cable network is. Instead, it has a broad range of TV programmes and films, many of which are licensed from TV channels. Let’s look into this more closely.

How does Netflix work?

Netflix is a streaming service that you can watch from your smart TV, computer, phone and a whole range of other devices.

It doesn’t deliver live TV (at least, not yet). Instead, it has a huge library of movies and TV shows that you can watch whenever you want. There’s no limit to the amount you can watch – once you’re a subscriber, you can spend eight hours a day watching nothing but Netflix shows, if you wish.

Instead of channels, content is broken down into different categories. There are, for example, categories such as “critically-acclaimed films” or “30-minute laughs”. Netflix also recommends shows or films based on your viewing history, once you’ve watched a few different things on the service and it has a grasp of the kind of content you watch.

Which TV channels’ shows appear on Netflix?

flat screen television near string lights
Stranger Things is a Netflix show

So, as we mentioned above, aside from commissioning its own content (such as Stranger Things, House of Cards and The Crown), Netflix also licenses content from other TV networks.

In the UK, for example, Netflix licenses content from the BBC and Channel 4, amongst others. That doesn’t mean everything that’s ever been shown on BBC1 or Channel 4 will be on Netflix. In fact, if you live in the UK, you’re far more likely to find BBC shows on iPlayer and Channel 4 shows on All 4. Only select shows will be licensed by Netflix and these shows often come and go from the service.

Note that Netflix offers different content in different regions. All of Netflix’s own shows are available worldwide, but because of licensing deals, content from other broadcasters is restricted to specific regions. Oddly, this can mean that there’s more BBC content available to US Netflix subscribers than there is to those of us in the UK who fund the BBC in the first place!

How do I find out what’s on Netflix without subscribing?

Netflix is, frankly, terrible at letting you find out what’s on the service if you don’t subscribe. However, there are some third-party sites that step into the breach.

What’s On Netflix is a good place to start. It breaks down content by region, so you’ll be able to see the new series or movies that are being made available in your country.

IMDB also has a section devoted to what’s on streaming services. Note that this isn’t regionalised, so you might find shows that you can’t get in the UK, for example.

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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