How to Watch British TV in USA – UK TV Channels in the US

Last Updated on May 7, 2024

How to Watch UK TV in the US

When I first started to spend time in the US one of the first things I used to try and figure out was where to watch British TV online. Now let’s first be straight, you can actually get many British TV programmes in America, Australlia indeed in all sorts of places.   Especially in this world of online streaming there’s a host of places you can watch your favorite UK shows.  If you’re just looking for a specific show, perhaps you’re searching for a particular British drama like Shetland, Sherlock Holmes or perhaps the hugely popular – The Midwife. You might find it being aired on US channels, PBS for example picks up many UK dramas. Some of the bigger budget stuff is normally released on AMC too, and there’s loads of other options. How to Watch British TV in USA on an Old Set

The simple fact is that most of the major UK TV channels have realized that if they produce great drama then it will sell all over the world.  I’ve watched the last few BBC TV dramas such as The Bodyguard and Killing Eve and both have been incredible.  The production values are world class and they’re all a joy to watch.   To be fair the BBC used to produce some ‘cheaper’ content, but it simply doesn’t make commercial sense in today’s global marketplace.

If you want to watch something specific only and just want to get access to that programme specifically t hen it’s worth checking out Amazon and Google Play.  You can get to watch most things on a pay per view basic and some of the best BBC shows appear on these platforms at some point.   Having said that the cost can mount up, Killing Eve is available at £1.99 per episode so it’s more than the cost of a DVD to watch the entire show.  Although it’s less than I used to pay for a film from Blockbuster and the great thing about most UK dramas especially those from the BBC is that they are much longer.

Remember though, the shows from the BBC were originally broadcast without adverts which especially in dramas or thrillers are much more enjoyable.   Unfortunately when they’re rebroadcast in commercial stations, advertising breaks are shoehorned into most of them.

There is another way though if you want to watch British TV like the BBC directly –

  1. Install a VPN app on your PC/Laptop/Tablet/Smartphone or all of them
  2. Click to a UK server 
  3. Enjoy all UK live TV and thousands of other shows through BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Channel 4 and 5 completely free.

This VPN is very reasonable, a great subscription service that works with all UK TV channels and has applications for all your devices.

Not having to allow for advertisements and breaks means that the shows are often a full hour long and sometimes even more, so the renting from a streaming service is still reasonable value.

A Great VPN to Watch British TV

However, there’s a much better option and before you start paying for expensive Cable add-ons or specific subscriptions, just watch this video – (it’s not just the BBC News!)

As you can see it’s very easy to use, to bypass the geo-block.  As long as you remember to pick a UK based server such as London.  It works on all your devices from phones to smart TVs and yes you can even use it to watch UK TV abroad on iPad and Chromebooks too.   One hint though, make sure you try out different servers as some will work better than others – letting the software auto detect the best doesn’t always give you the best performance for the BBC.  Try selecting manually and add the best to your favourites – here’s my favorite servers for the BBC from my experience but try out them all # 729-732, 757-764, 1044-1045, 1022-1025, 717-720, 745-752, 81-84, 974-977, 481-483, 689, 1057.

Now normally of course, the BBC’s online service and indeed all the UK TV channels are restricted to people in the UK. They do ask if you’ve got a valid TV license but all you have to do is say yes! However, the video demonstrates how you can make it look like you’re in the UK irrespective of your actual location. It’s starts off showing you how to watch the BBC News but if you continue, you’ll see that the whole of the BBC becomes available. That’s about a dozen channels most of which stream 24/7 and are packed with high quality entertainment.

Discovering how simple a VPN is and how we can use it to watch our ‘Brit’ programmes whenever we like has been wonderful!  Cheers, Mountwest, USA

For soccer lovers it’s worth reminding people that you can get access to Match of the Day, to watch the Premiership.  Also, if you have the misfortune to follow a lower league team, you can also access live commentaries on local radio for most matches.  Sitting in a bar in the US listening to the non-League commentary of Salford vs Wrexham is an odd experience I’m genuinely looking forward too!  Just remember to enable your UK VPN before you try and stream radio as it’s also blocked by default too.

You can also use the program to access all the other UK TV channels although those are commercial ones and do have some advertising too. Nevertheless, there’s some great shows on these too – check out ITV, Channels 4 and 5 and UK Play. You’ll also notice lots of US TV shows too which are picked up by the UK networks for broadcasting.

How to Watch British TV Online in America

It’s called a VPN service and all it does is hide the location of your computer. All your browsing when the VPN is enabled is routed through the VPN server. As long as you pick a UK one from the list then the BBC will assume that you’re in the UK. The whole site will be completely accessible as if you were in the United Kingdom.

There’s a couple of points to remember, firstly the fact that most of these sites require an account. It’s not difficult though, set up your account as normal and when it comes to asking your postcode (the UK equivalent of a ZIP code) just grab one from the internet. Pick any location in the UK, finding a hotels address is easiest and put the code in will work fine. The account is merely used to help build your interface, remembering favorite shows and recording where you’re at in a box set.


Connecting to UK server for British TV

Connected to a UK VPN Server from PC

Most of my friends in the USA who subscribe to a VPN use it as a British cable TV service.  For anyone who loves UK television then it’s an incredible deal.   Just about all the British TV channels available for a small fee which you can watch live, watch from the archive or download to watch offline for a specified period.

There’s no doubt it’s the most cost-effective way to watch BBC One in the USA and indeed all the main UK TV channels.  Don’t forget, it also includes the wonders of BBC radio which is arguably just as good.  The VPN service demonstrated in the video is actually one of the oldest and is called Identity Cloaker.  IT’s worth checking out particularly if you’re interested in how to watch British TV in USA as it has so many UK servers. This is important as you need fast and stable VPN servers in order to stream video effectively particularly if you use the HD options on the programmes.

Be wary of the very cheap VPN services as they do this in one way – putting more people on each server.  Not only does this vastly slow down everyone’s connection, but it can also be frustrating watching shows buffer all the time.  However, there is another danger overloaded servers with too many connections can be identified and blocked by the BBC making your subscription useless for UK television.

Watch UK TV in USA or Anywhere! 

It doesn’t stop there though, a decent VPN like NordVPN has other benefits too.  Simply by changing the country you are routing through you can access other online TV stations too.  Interested in Ireland, then simply pick an Irish server and go and visit one of the Irish TV stations such as RTE.  All of them block access outside Ireland, but with a VPN it won’t affect you.

Speak or learning French, then simply select a French server and go and enjoy some of the fantastic French TV channels.   I find watching the Simpsons in French helps my vocabulary loads, although Homer doesn’t quite sound right with a French accent!

There’s more on Canadian stations too, just click on a Canadian server and you should get access there too.  It should be mentioned though that many of the major Canadian online streaming services want your cable number too, so a VPN isn’t always enough.  However, most countries broadcaster don’t do this.

The VPN demonstrated in the video was working on a computer, but there are versions for most devices.  They have the largest range of watch UK TV abroad app options in the industry.  You just install on every device you need, six devices on each subscription currently.    It’s very simple and the step-by-step guide that support will supply you with only takes a few minutes.  You can get it working on other devices too by setting up on your router, although there’s a few devices which are difficult.  It’s not easy to get British TV on Roku devices for example.

It should also be noted that many people get a little concerned that they don’t see all this TV watching stuff advertised on many VPN sites.  That’s a deliberate tactic and one which the professional VPN providers operate using.  Don’t subscribe to a service that actively promotes itself as a TV watching method as these nearly always get closed down by legal threats.

There are a few good ones though, and I consider NordVPN to be one of the best. If you go for one of the longer plans, it’s one of the cheapest too.

NordVPN Special Offer Page


FAQ – Additional

Here’s some questions, we’ve received in the comments to this page.  Reproduced here to help keep the page updated, hopefully they’ll keep this page relevant.

How to Stream British TV?

There are several techniques but fundamentally only one method that works.  All the UK TV channels are available online if you are based in the UK.  All the websites check your location by checking your IP address when you connect to the site.  If you’re outside the UK you must hide your real IP address and display a UK based one to gain access.  The most common technique is to use a VPN service and connect to a UK VPN server before using the sites or applications.

How to Watch UK TV in USA Free of Charge?

Most of the UK TV channels are available free of charge online but only if you’re in the UK and own a TV licence.  If  you’re outside the UK you can bypass these restrictions by using a VPN and connecting to a UK server.  Obviously there’s a charge to this to pay for the staff, servers and infrastructure.  No free proxies or VPNs will work with BBC or ITVX in 2024 however you can use this free trial of Smart DNS to watch for free for 14 days.

How to Watch UK Shows in the US

If you want specific UK shows then it’s useful to know which TV station originally broadcast the show.  Most of the British TV channels maintain archives online of their old shows.  The BBC makes available a huge selection of it’s old shows.  ITVX also has a large selection although lots of the programmes are available on the commercial streaming service Britbox.  It’s worth checking on all these sources if you’re looking for something specific – you can access BBC,ITVX and Channel 4 using a VPN with UK servers.  Britbox is available in the USA for a small subscription.

Can I Watch British TV in USA Free of Charge ?

We’ve mentioned the 14 day trial of a free Smart DNS product above which will give you access to British TV for a limited period. However, is it possible to watch free for longer?  Well the problem is that all the free methods have been blocked, free proxies and VPNs haven’t worked for years now.  The only long term option with no cost is to find someone with a fast internet connection in the UK who doesn’t mind you useing their connection.  Many routers allow client VPN connections and internet speeds in the UK are generally high especially in urban environments.  Try one out – you can always get a refund if you have any problems.

Are Browser Cookies Used in Geo-Blocking?

Yes, cookies that are stored by your browser can be used in Geo-Blocking. Websites can store cookies on your device to remember your location and apply geo-blocking restrictions accordingly.  The cookies that are categorized as “Necessary” are stored on your browser as they are essential for enabling the basic functionalities of the site.

Will a VPN Protect my Data?

Yes, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) can protect your data in several ways. First, it encrypts the data you send and receive, making it harder for others to intercept and understand. Second, it can hide your IP address, which can make it harder for others to track your online activities. However, it’s important to note that using a VPN doesn’t guarantee complete anonymity or security, and it’s still important to use other safety measures like strong, unique passwords and two-factor authentication. It’s also crucial to choose a reputable VPN service, as some may log or sell your data.

Is the BBC iPlayer as Good as Netflix ?

Netflix has a vast range of international movies, TV shows, documentaries, and original programming. It’s great if you enjoy binge-watching series, and it offers more genres and choices.

BBC iPlayer, on the other hand, is a catch-up service for content aired on BBC channels. It’s excellent for viewers who enjoy BBC programs, including drama, comedy, documentaries, and news. BBC iPlayer also includes live sports coverage and some films.   In terms of user interface, both are user-friendly and offer high-definition streaming, but Netflix is available in more countries and on more devices.

Both platforms have their strengths, so your preference would depend on what type of content you prefer and your viewing habits.

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