We often get asked how a restaurant or business can save money on the TV that sits in their lobby or dinning room. Many want to know if they can use an on-demand service like Netflix or a live TV streaming service like YouTube TV to cut back on their bills. Most of the people who contact us about this want to know if it is legal.
Cord Cutters News is no lawyer, so we asked as many streaming services as we could get in contact with. Every major streaming service said their contracts do not allow them to offer their services to businesses for public viewing.
The issue is that content owners charge an extra fee for when TV channels are meant to be shown in public in places like restaurants. This is why businesses pay a higher price for TV than residential customers. That higher costs allows them to show cable channels in places like restaurants. According to Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW, they do not have the ability to offer a plan that includes that fee at this time.
When you read the terms of service for places like Netflix you will find language like this: “[t]he Netflix service, and any content viewed through our service, are for your personal and non-commercial use only.”
So, no, you cannot legally use most streaming services to show live TV in businesses like restaurants. There has even been lawsuits against restaurants who do not pay the proper fees. To our knowledge, there has not been any lawsuit around using on-demand services Netflix, but that does not mean it could not happen.
There is some good news, though, as some streaming companies have started to launch business-friendly streaming services. Companies like Chive Media Group have launched streaming services aimed at businesses. From Chive Media Group you will find Atmosphere, a streaming service that offers content meant to be shown in restaurants and waiting rooms.
There are options to offer something to watch in your waiting room, but if you want to show ESPN or CNN, for now, you still need cable TV.
Now may businesses show Netflix or use a service like Sling TV; however, they run the risk of potential legal issues down the road.
Please check with the streaming company you plan to use before you streaming a service at work for public viewing.
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