How to Watch British TV in France Using a VPN
Quick Article Summary
- You need to hide your IP address
- Choose a VPN company with UK Servers (NordVPN is cheap and reliable)
- Download and install the software or app for your device
- Choose one of the UK servers (use the BBC Optimized ones !)
- Create a free account if you haven’t got one already (say yes to UK TV license and use any Valid UK Postcode)
- Start Watching directly from BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and Channel 4
- When finishing disconnect the VPN connection (or switch to a server in your actual country)
It can be frustrating trying to watch UK TV abroad if you’re living in France. There are lots of solutions online but unfortunately many of them are just plain wrong. One site I read suggested hacking into your neighbours wireless internet just to watch a programme or two! This won’t help one little bit and you’re likely to get into trouble!
In this article we’ll explain why you can’t easily watch UK TV in France and the simplest solution to solve it.
How UK TV Services Block You
If you watch a UK ‘catch up’ service like the BBC iPlayer from France or anywhere outside the UK then you will soon discover that everything stops. That’s because these services block anyone with a foreign IP address. To watch catch up programmes online from outside of the United Kingdom, your computer or mobile device has to have an internet protocol address that’s registered in the UK.
The technology is called geo-targeting or geo-blocking and it’s a method that websites use for controlling who sees what on their websites. When you visit a website your IP address is recorded and it’s location checked. This may be used to send you to specific pages e.g. in a different language to match your location or in some cases to block you completely.
Often it’s useful, search engines for example use the technology to tailor your results to your location. so you can search for ‘electricians’ in Google and it will send you results based on your IP address location.
For most media sites and especially all the UK TV sites like BBC, ITV and Channel 4/5 though it’s not useful at all. The technology is primarily used to block access to anyone outside the United Kingdom. So a non-UK IP address blocks you from all the best sites and live TV options too.
Not Just British TV in France – Any Site, in Any Country
It’s not a localised issue, sites all over the world use geo-targeting in this way. Nearly every large media site on the internet will restrict access to some extent usually to their domestic market. All the French TV channels are blocked if you’re in the UK for example.
If you don’t watch catch up TV, but need to watch live broadcasts or watch a certain site at all then it’s also likely to be blocked. Watching BBC iPlayer is probably one of the most popular pastimes outside the UK as the media company has given more options for watching shows later than any other company in the world. The BBC really has one of the best online sites on the internet, but the situation is equally frustrating for other people.
Just as a French person living in the US who’s blocked in exactly the same way from watching all their home TV stations in their native language. Or any other person travelling who mistakenly thought the internet was a simple way to stay connected with their homeland.
How to Watch British TV in France – It is Possible
Fortunately it’s actually really easy to watch UK TV abroad once you know how. The method is just a little bit more technical than most people realise but hardly difficult.
What You Need is really only one thing – A VPN Account
A virtual private network (VPN) is the only service that will allow you to watch British TV in France or anywhere else. It’s not designed specifically for this task but a VPN does give you the ability to hide your real location, which is all that you need.
All you need to do is ensure that the VPN service has lots of UK servers that you can connect to. When you do this, your real IP address is hidden and any website will only the see the address of the VPN server. As long as it’s located in the UK and is not blacklisted in anyway then you’ll be able to access sites like BBC iPlayer without any restrictions.
How to watch UK TV abroad with a VPN
To see how simple this is, then just watch this video where we access BBC iPlayer despite being located in Paris, France at the time. In reality whenever you use a VPN then your real location is immaterial.
Watch all the UK TV Channels Anywhere
There are some great UK Television channels online.
- BBC iPlayer – Watch all the BBC channels live including CBBC and watch archived shows.
- ITV Hub – watch the latest episodes of Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Downton Abbey, Ray Mears etc. on ITV’s biggest online TV service with watch again options for 7 days after transmission.
- Channel 4/ All 4 – watch the latest shows on board like Gogglebox, The Great British Bake Off, Count Arthur Strong etc.
- Channel 5 – watch wrestling, UFC fighting and watch 5USA shows online.
And All the Rest – watch all sorts of British TV online from any device. These are just the free to air channels, your VPN or proxy can allow you to subscribe to lots of others too like sky, BT and Now TV. Watching UK Television Abroad is a lot easier than you think it is.
Not Just British TV in France – Any Site, in Any Country
A VPN allows you to watch British TV in France when connected to a UK based server. However if you choose a VPN like NordVPN then you get lots more options too, it means you can watch virtually any site from anywhere. Depending on your VPN service you should be able to connect to lot of different countries and enjoy their TV too. There are some wonderful music sites, sport channels and streaming services all over the world which are normally restricted by this kind of geo-restriction technology too which you can bypass.
Sometimes a popular premium sport is available on free to air in another country where it’s not so popular. The latest blockbusters might be on much earlier in some countries than your own. You’re only restricted by the number of countries your VPN supports, NordVPN has servers in over 60 different countries in the basic subscription.
Can I use a free VPN to watch UK TV abroad?
If you know someone that lives in the UK and is happy to let you connect to their own VPN then yes! There is nothing special required, the UK IP address is what you need. Remember though they will need a relatively quick broadband connection to support your streaming. Also remember that you will be reliant on their upload speed to stream not the usually quicker download speed.
As for other free options, most of them are pretty worthless in 2021. all the free proxies have been blacklisted or at least they are very soon after appearing. Free VPNs are very scarce and almost always extremely slow too, although again they’re normally blocked from overuse anyway.
You might be lucky and enjoy some free access, but be aware that many free services install adware (and sometimes malware) when you connect via them. So you should be very cautious, never input any personal details when connected and make sure you have a decent Anti virus solution installed.
What about the UK TV license?
If you’re living in the UK then you will need a TV license to be able to watch live TV. You’ll also need a TV license if you want to watch BBC iPlayer content on-demand or record it for later viewing. Other live streaming services, such as NOW TV and Sky GO, will also require that you have a licence if they offer live channels.
So what about if you’re watching from France or some other country? Do you also need a UK TV license too?
This is sort of confusing issue, especially for those of us who would rather do everything as legitimately as possible.
The simple answer is that you can’t actually buy a UK TV license from outside the UK anyway. You’re not supposed to be watching BBC iPlayer or any other UK only site from any other European country but Britain. So there’s really no point buying a UK TV license if you’re never going to be in the UK anyway.
You will be asked (quite often actually) on the BBC iPlayer website if you have a UK TV license. However there’s no check and as long as you answer YES – then everything will continue to work ok. There’s no plans to put in any sort of license check beyond this simple question as far as I am aware.