Many people want to watch UK television live over the internet from outside of the United Kingdom. It is possible, but you need to hide your true location by using a VPN or proxy service. In this blog post, we will show you how it’s done and teach you about some good options for watching UK TV online when abroad!
Watch British Live TV and Radio Channels Online
There are of course lots of TV stations which stream their programmes over the internet. You can find them on platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo as well as their own websites. These are great if you want to settle down and enjoy box sets and dramas.
However I think live TV is better than archived programmes as it’s more spontaneous, you can watch it at your own pace, and you can also interact with other viewers. There are also a lot of repeats (e.g. Eastenders) already to catch up on. As well as this, when something big happens or there is a breaking news story – like live events such as the Olympics – being able to watch it live makes for a great experience.
Current affairs, sports and news are the sort of topics that are ideally watched live. Indeed many of these sort of categories aren’t included in the archive sections of the main UK television sites. The BBC doesn’t archive News shows for more than a few hours, you can’t enjoy Match of the Day for much longer either. Some of this is due to licensing restrictions but also to maintain the integrity and link between the viewer and broadcasters live transmission.
Watching the BBC or ITV News a few days later seems rather pointless, much of it will be known and often events have superseded the old broadcasts especially during current pandemic times !
How to watch British TV online live outside UK
As mentioned all the main British TV channels broadcast their channels live as well as maintain huge archives of their programmes.
You’ll usually find them under sections like Live TV or the specific channels. It’s sometimes easy to miss them because of the focus on specific programmes and the archive material.
Here’s the BBC iPlayer section –
As you can see all the different BBC channels are listed at the top. Simply select the channel you want to watch and then click ‘Watch Live’ to see the live stream.
Here’s the All 4 live channels stream –
Just select the channel you want to see what’s currently being broadcast. There’s some leeway on all of the channels too, most of them can be restarted if you want to watch from the beginning. This only works if you select before the particular programme has finished though. Handy if you spot a film and you’ve missed the start or forgot about the time zone differences ! You’ll find the same facilities in other British TV sites like ITV Hub.
Why use a VPN to watch TV online live outside UK
Of course there’s an important issue to solve first and that’s the fact if you try and watch any of these TV stations online from outside the UK – you’ll get blocked. Each one will record your IP address and check which country it’s registered in. Anything outside the UK and none of the video or streaming options will work.
Of course, it’s possible,to bypass these blocks but you need to hide your true location by using a VPN or proxy service. In this blog post, we will show you how it’s done and teach you about some good options for watching UK TV online when abroad!
A VPN masks the IP address of your device, and substitutes it with one that belongs to a server in a location remote from you. Most users today know this technology as “VPN.” although it stands for Virtual Private Network. Indeed most users don’t worry about this they simply use it as a tool to change their IP address to one from another country.
If you connect to a UK VPN server then all the amazing UK TV channels will work perfectly irrespective of where you actually are.
How to Watch UK TV abroad with a VPN
It sounds kind of complicated but it really isn’t. The concept is simple, hiding your true location behind a VPN server based in another country. Indeed it’s easy to operate too, VPN providers have made it incredibly simple to use their software to change your ‘digital location’. Anyone can use them very easily, there are literally thousands of technophobe pensioners using their VPNs every day to enjoy British TV from places like the Costa Del Sol.
Here’s a video demonstrating how easy it is, if you use one of the simple mainstream VPN providers. This one’s on a laptop but the software can be installed on tablets, smartphones and other devices just as easily.
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What about the UK TV license?
You’ll probably be aware that to watch live UK television from any of these companies you’re supposed to have a UK TV license. The BBC (and some other channels) are funded from the proceeds of this license.
The problem is that you can’t actually buy the UK TV license from outside the United Kingdom. So unfortunately even if you want to do the right thing, if you’re based outside the UK it’s not actually possible. Most people who live partly in the United Kingdom though will be able to buy a license when they’re resident.
You will in fact be asked by the BBC iPlayer site whether you have a valid UK TV license before streaming any programme. Here are your choices and what will happen –
- Say ‘No’ and the programme won;t stream and you’ll be redirected to the international version of the BBC site with no live or archived TV.
- Say ‘yes’ and everything will work ok. There’s no further check other than the question.
Obviously how you answer is up to you, however if you say no then there’s little point in investing in a VPN. Although currently only the BBC asks the question about the UK TV license.
How Is Content Geographically Blocked – Just IP Address?
This is the primary method of blocking access, checking where your IP address is registered to. Yet many sites can check other things to determine your location too. One of the main ones is to look at cookies, the little text files stored on your computer can identify where you logged in from last. any problems it’s worth clearing your cookies before you connect to any of these TV sites.
Other methods which have been used are to look at the locale and language settings on your device. If your IP address is UK and your timezone is set to Sydney it’s a sign your trying to watch UK TV from Australia. These can give away your true location even when using a VPN. Generally they’re not a problem but if you have issues it’s worth ensuring your timezone and computer is setup to English and UK.
The Best VPNs For UK TV Also Work for Other Countries
Most of the best VPNs have servers all over the world not just the UK. The really good ones like NordVPN include them all in their basic subscriptions too. So you can use it to unblock TV stations in lots of other countries too. There’s dozens of great US stations like Hulu, NBC and Pandora which have loads of free stuff and can be unlocked by simply connecting to a US server.
Try Canada and Australia for more English spoken content or switch to others to help learn a new language. Lots of the French TV stations show programmes with subtitles so you can improve your French. There’s lots of sport programmes that are normally on premium channels in different countries. Check out Indian TV for brilliant cricket and football coverage for example without hefty subscription fees.
There are many VPNs which work in countries other than the UK, so if you were looking for one in order to unblock TV channels from abroad then this would also be an option.