Unfortunately at the moment, there seems to be quite a few things wrong with the UK. Political chaos, a falling currency and a crisis which threatens both the National Health and the welfare state. However despite this gloom and doom, there’s one thing that Britain does exceptionally well – TV. It might sound trivial and slightly inconsequential. Yet anyone who has traveled will soon come to miss the wonderful BBC and all the other UK TV stations.
Yet this is the age of the internet, surely your physical location is irrelevant? I must be able to watch British TV online or stream BBC to my laptop? As I’m traveling around the US for a few weeks, can’t I just go and watch UK TV in the USA over the internet?
I’m afraid not, because of something with a variety of names – region locking, geo-blocking or filtering. Basically all the UK television stations stop streaming to anyone who is located outside the UK. Now it’s not just the British TV channels that do this, virtually every large media company including all the US ones, block access outside their domestic markets. So the US traveler has a similar problem trying to access NBC, ABC or their HBO subscription.
Now this was easily solved in the past, just search online, find something called an anonymous proxy and use it to hide your location. Except, these soon became unusable as the media companies started blocking access to proxy connections. Here’s the grumpy Hulu message you’ll get if you try and watch Hulu from outside the USA.
You’ll get a similar message from the BBC, or Netflix or ABC or any of the other media sites. So that’s it? Are we stuck watching only the online TV sites from the country we’re in at the time? It seems against the spirit of the internet, the global communication network restricted and filtered based on your location. Fortunately there’s a solution to this problem, and one we can all use to access any blocked site irrespective of our location.
How to Watch UK TV from USA
It’s basically the same method as bouncing your internet connection through a proxy server to hide your location. Only instead of using a proxy (which all the sites can detect), we use something called a VPN server which they cannot. The simplest way to demonstrate is through a short video – which you can see below.
In this video we are accessing the BBC online channel, a UK TV channel which also restricts access based on your location. As you can see it’s very simple to access using the security program Nord VPN. The same method works for all the UK TV stations that broadcast online, as long as you connect via a VPN server which is situated in the United Kingdom you watch UK TV from USA or anywhere.
When accessing the popular UK channels like the BBC, it’s best to use the Nord VPN specially configured UK servers. If you just rely on the auto connect feature, you may find yourself using servers that are blocked. Don’t worry though, currently these servers are optimized for the BBC – UK: #764, #977, #1025, #1388, #1512, #1515 K #836, #1043, #1057, #1320, #1483, #1513 #1448 #1325 #1347. They are also useful to watch ITV player abroad too, any problems ask support for the latest list. They keep an eye on these to ensure they work perfectly with the BBC and swap out IP addresses when necessary.
If you want to watch something from another country, say the USA or Canada then just pick the appropriate country server. It will work perfectly with most media channels across the world. The only ones that don’t work automatically are those which are restricted to specific cable providers – some of the Canadian media sites ask for your customer number for those too.
The same method works for all sorts of other blocked sites. Can’t watch a YouTube video, just switch to a country where it’s published. Want too place a bet on a European online betting sites, then just fire up a EU based server before you connect. Want to watch Sky Go Abroad using your subscription, no problem. Getting fed up that your Netflix subscription changes whenever you move to a different country, just fire up the VPN connection and watch whichever version you need. Be careful with Netflix though as often these get blocked, check with the VPN service provider first if you need this.
The software sits in your task bar and you just click to change your location, you can also watch UK TV abroad on iPad or other devices like iPads, phones and tablets, just look for the guides in the members area. There are also versions which work with Mac OS X and smartphones, all included in the subscription – use one or all of them on all your devices.
Incidentally you may have heard some scare stories about these methods not working anymore and that you can’t get BBC iPlayer in USA any longer. These refer to a clampdown that the BBC instigated during 2017 where they blocked many of the VPN services which people were using. They went after the companies who openly advertised TV watching services and used ads with BBC logos and similar, as a result many hundreds of these companies closed down. Yet fear not many still work seamlessly, as I’m currently enjoying watching Match of the Day live in September 2019 from the US. The key factor to remember is always choose a discrete VPN service which is primarily a security service, they’re much safer to use and you can still use them to watch British TV in USA!
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