UK TV Abroad Questions

This is a simple page with some of the questions that commonly get asked about watching UK TV abroad.  It’s presented in simple bullet points but you’ll find the answers covered in more details elsewhere on the site.    So please feel free to ask for clarifications or more information if you need it.

Do All UK TV Channels Block Access from Outside the UK?

Yes, certainly all the major channels like BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and 5 block access.  Also you can’t access paid TV such as BT TV, Sky GO and Now TV outside the UK even if you have a valid subscription.

Why Do they Block Users from Abroad?

It’s a combination of rights issues, that the companies only have broadcasting rights linked to a specific country. However as these companies create a large amount of their own content, then the main reason is money. Restricting viewers to the UK means that their programmes can be sold to other countries.

How do they Enforce the Block?

There are a few variations depending on which media company but primarily it’s based on the location of your IP address.  When you connect to the internet you are assigned a unique network number (the IP address), the company looks up the ‘nationality’ of this address and blocks if it’s not from the UK.

Can I Change My IP Address somehow?

I’m afraid this is virtually impossible.  IP addresses are allocated by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and will always be registered in your own country.   You are stuck with the IP address you are allocated with (unless you own an ISP!).

How Do People Access UK TV Abroad Then?

The primary method is by hiding their real IP address and displaying a UK one instead.  This is done by connecting through an intermediate server based in the UK.  This relays all your data, hiding your real location and allowing access to all UK only sites.

What are these Intermediate Servers Called?

There are two main types – proxy and VPN servers.  These can relay data automatically and additionally the VPN creates a secure, encrypted tunnel which protects your data too.

Which is best for UK TV – Proxy or VPN?

Unfortunately now it has to be a VPN server as all the major media companies have figured out how to block access from a proxy server automatically.  This is unfortunate because there are many free proxy servers available online, whereas the vast majority of VPN services are paid.

So there are Free VPN services?

Not  many but there are a couple.  They cover their costs/make profits in two ways, you should check carefully before using. First is to inject advertising and banners into your browser which pays them commission.  The second method is using some of your bandwidth to support a premium subscription. This involves other people effectively browsing through your own internet connection, I’d advise heavily against using these services!

Will Any VPN service work – there’s loads of them!

Technically as long as they have a server based in the UK, and you connect through that then yes it will work.

Which are the Best VPN Services for UK TV Abroad?

In reality there’s only a few that work reliably, and the best way its to test them yourself.   Here’s a couple of things to look out for:

  • Don’t Use a Company that advertises itself as TV watching services, they’ll get blocked or taken down.
  • Be careful of very cheap companies, they’re cheap as they overload the servers and provide minimal support.
  • BBC have blocked thousands of servers – test with a short subscription first.