Just about every major UK TV channel is broadcast over the internet, which sounds good news for travelers, expats, holidaymakers and lovers of British TV. Unfortunately it’s not that straight forward as many people have found when they tried to watch online from outside the UK.
All the UK TV channels operate a geo-blocking system which prevents access from any location outside the United Kingdom. However don’t worry, at this present time there are thousands of people streaming the BBC iPlayer or watching Coronation Street on the ITV Hub from all over the world.
Here’s a video demonstrating this issue and a solution:
The method employed is fairly standard, in order to access all these UK websites you need to hide your physical location. These websites determine your location by checking where your IP address is registered to, this is the unique network number which is assigned wherever you are connecting from. Although this address cannot be changed you can hide it by connecting through an intermediate server based in the United Kingdom. These are generally called VPN or Proxy servers and they can relay your request hiding your real location and providing full access to any UK only based resource like the BBC iPlayer.
As you can see although it sounds complicated it’s in fact relatively straight forward. The practice of restricting access based on location is spreading across the world and a huge industry of these VPN services has been created.
So which are the main UK TV sites which VPNs are used for? Well the choice is pretty large and to be honest they can supply pretty much all your entertainment needs.
- BBC iPlayer – the biggest and best online TV channel probably in the world, it currently has ten online streaming channels live and thousands of hours content archived. Personally it’s pretty much all I watch abroad and of course no adverts.
- ITV Hub – UK’s biggest commercial TV station. They run live streaming from all their channels and there’s a huge archive too. Some films and movies can only be watched live due to licensing restrictions. They’ve just put up a new Box set section which has entire series to watch at once.
- All 4 – the innovative and arty UK TV channel. Live streaming and archive section, with some brilliant box sets. Channel 4 has changed from it’s initial inception there’s something for most people – well worth checking out.
- My 5 – Channel 5’s online channel with fast live streaming and their box sets from their own content and bought in from other channels. They have some excellent crime and Sci-Fi shows from the USA. Also some great dramas niche programmes that you won’t find anywhere else.
- Sky Go – Sky is the main satellite broadcaster in the UK and has literally millions of subscribers. There are many movies, films, TV series and documentaries. Sky also have coverage of many major sporting events. You will need a paid subscription to watch Sky Go abroad and access these channels. You will need one of the pricier subscriptions for the movies and sports remember.
They are now very simple to use and can hide your location with simply a click of a button. There are literally hundreds of these services available all over the internet however you should be careful which service you invest in. Many of these are overloaded and don’t work well, indeed some are already blocked by websites like the BBC and ITV. In fact there were waves of panic in the expat community last year when people found their BBC iPlayer VPN not working.
There is a simple method to identify which works well and that’s to try them out using the short subscription option that most offer. We’ve tested most of these services and our favorite is one called Identity Cloaker which you can try out for a ten day trial here.