Most people when travelling or moving abroad, usually end up missing at least some things about home. For me, when I moved to the US I really missed British TV programmes despite having access to some great US stuff on my screens. The amount of adverts and breaks in shows though definitely takes some getting used to, especially for those us BBC devotees who would enjoy a 2 hour crime drama without a single advertising break. Anyway fortunately this is the digital age and being outside the UK doesn’t mean you have to give up British TV programmes, you can watch BBC iPlayer abroad.
There initially seems little option for viewing other than waiting for the UK shows to be rebroadcast on a US network. Of course, unofficially there are some options, both free and paid that can allow you access to any shows you want irrespective of your location. Here’s a little run down of the ‘unofficial options’.
- Torrents/Usenet – Most shows are uploaded and shared as torrents and on newsgroups. The quality varies but it’s usually possible to download full copies of shows if you look around. It can be a little hit and miss, and you do have to accept the security and virus risks but if you are careful it is a viable option. There can be some time lag as the best copies won’t appear straight away, but you’ll find most shows get uploaded.
- Free Proxy servers – the reason you can’t use BBC iPlayer or any of the other online UK TV players is your IP address. All the services look up your IP address location and will block anything outside the UK. A proxy server sits in between you and the web sites you visit, if you use a proxy based in the UK you can access British TV programmes on the BBC. Unfortunately proxies don’t work for the other media stations like ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. Although you can find free ones, they can be slow and unreliable – try a site called proxy(dot)org for lists.
- VPN Services – probably the simplest and most popular option for those who just want to watch all the UK stations. These work in a similar manner to free proxies however they are generally encrypted so are more secure and work with all media services. There is a cost to these, but most of them are not very expensive – you should look for ones that are easy to use and have fast servers. Most of the best ones have servers all over the world, which can be used to access online TV in lots of other countries.
Here’s a video demonstration of the software in action :
I personally use the VPN option, although the obvious drawback is the cost if you intend to use them regularly – the cost is fairly low, most are just a few dollars a month. I can recommend . , it has a simple software interface for use on a PC/laptop and you can also set up the VPN manually for using on other devices like tablets, phones and smart TVs. There are lots of others out there though and most are very similarly priced.