It’s a familiar situation often encountered by Brits abroad. You’re traveling away on business, or looking to grab a moment’s peace during a family holiday – and the desire to watch your favorite show overwhelms you. Local channels simply won’t cut it, but you’re at a loss when it comes to accessing quality home programming. Want to know how to watch UK TV online outside of UK? Read on to find out more.
About UK TV
UK TV viewers have plenty of choices when watching terrestrial and digital content at home. The BBC is the obvious TV channel and the nation’s own broadcaster, funded by annual license subscriptions. Other channels include ITV, Channel 4, and our channel of interest here – UK TV.
UKTV is a commercial broadcasting station with a monthly audience of around 40 million viewers. It’s a free catch-up station available to all and has been around for more than twenty years. It has long been one of the leaders in the digital TV space as a joint venture between Discovery and BBC Studios. Today, the independent and award-winning company is listed in the Sunday Times Top 100 companies and distributes its original programming to 200 markets across the world. Its channels include:
- UKTV Play
- Good Food
In total, UK TV shows have around 10% of the UK’s total commercial TV market. If you want to watch UK TV, the content is accessible through a range of devices and platforms, such as:
- Virgin Media
- Amazon Fire
- UKTV Play
Why can’t viewers watch UK TV abroad?
The issue here is called geo-blocking. UK TV and other British TV companies, including the BBC and ITV, produce their content for paying customers at home in the UK. They do this by identifying the IP address of the person who is trying to view their content.
If you have a UK-based IP address, UK TV will identify you as a ‘native’ viewer and let you access your content of choice, via your TV or an app. However, if your IP address shows that your location is overseas, you will be denied access to the content via a firewall and error message that says your location is out of UK TV’s geography.
However, the good news is that you can override this ban and catch up with your favorite UK TV even when you are spending time overseas.
Want to know how to watch UK TV abroad?
UKTV may use geoblocking to limit its programme views to people living in the UK. However, you can use a VPN to access the website and stream UK TV content. By getting around the geo-block with the VPN, you can watch UK TV channel programmes anywhere in the world, on a Mac, PC, iPhone or iPad, Android, Apple TV or Amazon FireStick.
The added advantages of a VPN
Virtual Private Networks do more than just overcome geo-restrictions, however. This technology provides total privacy online and hides your identity so that you are safe from hacker attacks. Some of the other benefits you can enjoy when you choose to subscribe to a VPN service are:
- Keep content that you upload to the internet private
- Protect your anonymity online
- Bypass forms of censorship and blocks
- Hide your browsing activity from ISPs and local networks, again to preserve your anonymity
- Access temporary IP addresses
- Safely download and share files
- Use public WiFi securely
How to use the VPN
Whether you’re a fan of Michae J. Fox Show, Top Gear repeats, Pan Am, or Bad Teacher, you can use the right VPN service to watch them. But what exactly is a VPN and how does it work? Think of the Virtual Private Network as a tunnel that bridges the digital gap between you and UK TV’s restricted content. VPNs link the user’s device to a server located in the country of your choice. The data passes through a ‘digital tunnel’ and is encrypted for security as it does so. All of your internet data is routed safely through the gateway of your VPN server.
The most important part of this service when it comes to watching UK TV overseas is that your IP address will be changed when you choose to connect to one in a different country. This means that you can choose a UK-based server address owned by your VPN provider, and make it look as though you are in the UK. Voila! UK TV will then assess you as being UK-based and allow you to watch your favorite channels, regardless of where your current location is.
Setting up your VPN service
Each provider will offer a slightly different process to sign up, but broadly speaking, you’ll need to do the following steps to watch UK TV online outside of UK using a VPN service to identify you as using a UK IP address.
- Sign up for your service of choice (see our recommendations below)
- Create your own private VPN account
- Download the VPN app and install it into the device that you’ll use to stream content from UK TV Play
- Launch the app and choose a UK server to connect to on the VPN system
- Use the temporary UK based IP address provided to mask your actual location and to suggest that you are in the UK
- Go ahead and play your UKTV channel of choice
Our VPN choices
If you want to watch UK TV abroad, you must pick a VPN service that is designed to get around geo restrictions. Our provider choices are:
- ExpressVPN – an excellent all-rounder with high speeds, instant set-up, and excellent security. Well worth the slight premium in price for the top-quality service.
Read our full ExpressVPN review
- NordVPN – with a large number of 400 servers in the UK, this VPN can unlock content from all the key UK streaming platforms. The servers are also HD optimized, so you should get great picture quality, so long as you have a sufficiently fast internet connection.
Read our full NordVPN review
- CyberGhost – has 150 UK servers, live customer service support, malware, and ad blocking. And what’s more, you can use up to 5 devices per account.
Read our full CyberGhost review
Bear in mind that, although there are a large number of VPN service providers, not all will be able to unlock UK TV content in the country abroad that you’ll be attempting to access it from. Ask the customer service team specifically first about their UK TV unlocking credentials before you sign up. Beyond that, if you do experience any issues, it can be as simple as restarting the app, changing your settings, clearing your cache or even restarting your laptop! Again, the customer services teams are usually very hot on the mark and ready to help, and most offer live chat for instant service.
So, next time you find yourself ready to watch UK TV abroad, make sure you set yourself up with a quick and easy VPN service and enjoy your favorite show without any hassle!