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Every major television company in the UK broadcasts the majority of their shows online, via their own websites. What’s more most of them also archive most of their material for several months which can be watched anytime. The result is that if you can access these television sites, you actually have access to a huge selection of TV programmes for absolutely free.
For example the BBC alone has a dozen premium channels broadcasting almost 24 hours a day. Also their archive allows many shows to be watched for up to 12 months after initial broadcast. Even on this one site, you have access to a huge variety of shows ranging from entertainment, comedy, current affairs to some of the world’s premier documentaries too. There’s certainly much more than many premium cable subscriptions that I’ve paid for in various countries across the world.
In fact, for many people all their TV needs are met on the BBC iPlayer site – a huge amount of quality entertainment for all the family whatever their preferences. There’s even two award winning channels for children which your kids will love.
Other UK TV Channels Online
However this is not all there are lots of other channels too, the UK is blessed with some of the oldest and best commercial channels anywhere in the world. Broadcasters like ITV who are known for world renowned programmes like Poirot and Downton Abbey also stream and archive the vast majority of their shows online too. They also cover lots of major sports events and currently you can watch the ITV Rugby World 2019 including every single game archive for a month. So although ITV does offer a premium version, all these programmes are available online for free if you don’t mind watching a few adverts.
Those are the main two, but there are several more with some great shows and programmes all completely free. Try out Channel four’s website – All 4 and Channel 5 websites which have slightly more niche content, but cater for more specific audiences and sectors. They both have several channels though which cater for different categories like movies, US, TV shows – many of the biggest blockbusters on US television for example have found their way onto these two sites.
For an English speaking audience, there’s so much on these channels that it’s an amazing resource and of course it’s all absolutely free. You do have to watch some advertisements on the commercial channels, and a few trailers on the BBC website but they’re not that intrusive. Indeed my US friends who are used to more adverts, hardly even noticed they were being shown! However all channels have ‘premium’ options if you want to exclude them for a subscription fee.
The problem for many potential viewers of this treasure trove of entertainment is that they’re currently only accessible from the United Kingdom. So if you try and access from outside the UK, the website will determine you location and block you from watching anything. The BBC website goes one step further and redirects you to an ‘international version’ of the site which does not include any streaming capability of it’s shows.
There is a solution, it’s called a VPN and by using one you can access all these channels and thousands more across the world.
The Best VPN for UK TV – What Do I Look For ?
The VPN (virtual private network) is simply a program which allows you to hide your current location and identity. There’s usually a software component which can route your internet connection through a specific server. These were originally used primarily to secure your internet connection and data but more recently have been used to bypass location blocks. If the VPN server is in the correct location then you can bypass all location based restrictions. So for example if you were in the US and connected to a UK VPN server then you could watch all the British TV channels without interruption.
It’s a huge business now and there are literally millions of people who use VPNs every single day. Most of the decent VPN services allow you to select and click on a country to route your connection wherever needed.
So basically you’ll click an icon in your task bar then select your country – here’s a simple illustration of what’s possible for a holidaymaker/expat/traveller in Spain for instance.
- Watches Local News on a Spanish Website
- Starts VPN and Clicks on USA
- Starts HBO to enjoy the latest ‘Game of Thrones’ from the USA
- Clicks on UK VPN Flag
- Starts BBC iPlayer to Watch the BBC News Live
- Starts ITV Hub to catch the new series of Downton Abbey
- Disconnects VPN and returns to normal browsing
That’s just a simple example of how a VPN can be used virtually every day to access sites all over the world, whenever you want and wherever you happen to be.
There are of course, many of these services available in fact I’ve even seen one (Nord VPN) advertising on mainstream UK TV.
So How Do I Choose Which VPN Service is Best?
When you start looking to purchase VPN software the choice can be a little bewildering. Unfortunately this is largely because you can set up a very basic and pretty crap VPN very easily with little skill and investment. So there’s many VPN services which are little more than a couple of basic servers installed with some VPN software. Of course’ they’re often fronted by stunning websites and flashy e-commerce platforms which make them look so much more.
If you’re looking to use the service to watch TV then the most important factors are the VPN servers themselves. For great BBC access then you need fast, secure UK based servers with lots of throughput without these you can forget watching anything online. Unfortunately many VPN services will throw all their users onto a couple of UK servers which result in a couple of things happening –
- Lag ! Every program will stutter and freeze, simply because the server is unable to cope.
- Blocked – too many people using the same server/IP address will mean that the service will get blocked.
This is the reason you’ll find so many people switching VPNs when trying to access the BBC iPlayer for example. The cheapest VPNs will load thousands of individual connections on their UK servers which will either be incredibly slow or just won’t work.
It’s the easiest way to lower prices for a VPN service provider – simply load lots of users onto the same servers. This is why you’ll see lots of posts about VPNs won’t work with BBC, or that they’re all blocked.
Try the Best VPN for Yourself
This is precisely the reason why you can’t find a free VPN server that works with any online media site anymore. The easiest way for these sites to detect VPNs is to check multiple connections from the same addresses. A long time ago they did work and you could use things like the Hotspot Shield free VPN to enjoy Match of the Day without having to pay. It’s many years since this was possible as the BBC is very efficient at detecting these multiple connections – which is why it’s crucial to find a service which puts performance before price.
Simply put stay clear of the low price VPNs if you want to access sites like the BBC, unfortunately they won’t work.
Here’s one that does, might look a little geeky but they have loads of super fast UK servers which are never overloaded – Identity Cloaker is the Best VPN for UK TV available.