If You Want to Watch UK TV Everywhere Online – Just read this (Updated March, 2023)
In 2023, there’s no shortage of TV streaming services which you can subscribe to depending on your location. Most of us can now access Netflix after they rolled out to the majority of the planet a couple of years ago. There are also sites like Hulu, Starz, Amazon Prime and of course the Disney channel too if you’re in the right place. There are even a few free sites, like Peacock which are filled with lots of different TV shows too although the best stuff is usually on the premium subscription. Most of these services are fairly reasonable and are packed with thousands of films, TV series and even concerts to enjoy. However, if you subscribe to a few, the cost can actually be quite substantial.
The Best Streaming Services like BBC iPlayer are Actually Free
There are actually a few alternatives though, which for many people might provide a much better option that even a couple of these modern streaming sites. I’m talking about the vast range of live streaming services available on UK Television from the major broadcasters. Most of the provide live TV 24 hours a day, plus a massive archive of all their programmes too. So if you miss the latest episode of the Line of Duty, you’ve still got 12 months to catch it on the BBC iPlayer archive.
It’s certainly no understatement that for a certain type of person, all their entertainment needs could be covered by having access to all the UK TV stations. What’s more they’re all available online free of charge, although by default only to UK viewers.
- BBC iPlayer – 25 channels streaming live TV plus one of the largest TV archives on the planet. Also, BBC Sounds has thousands of great radio shows too.
- ITV Hub – UK’s biggest commercial channel with 7 main channels plus lots of regional ones too.
- Channel 4 Online – All 4 has 5 main channels including a dedicated film channel. There are currently about 1700 shows in their archive to stream too.
- Channel 5 – 5 main channels including a US based one and lots of great movies too.
Watch UK TV Anywhere in 2023 and Throw Away Those Streaming Subscriptions
As we’ve mentioned, all the UK TV channels are free to air and so accessible to anyone in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, this doesn’t extend to the rest of the world which they all block access by using a technology called geo-targeting. This basically works out your location based on your IP address and blocks you if you’re from outside the UK. Fortunately, there’s a fairly simple way to bypass these blocks and unlock all these great channels irrespective of your location. So read on to discover how simple it is to watch UK TV online.
You can watch every single UK TV channel irrespective of your location using something called a VPN.
Bypass Blocks and Watch Anywhere in the World
A VPN is a way to secure your internet connection protecting your personal details by encrypting everything you do. It also protects your privacy by hiding your location which means it effectively stops these geo-targeting blocks too. So, if you use a VPN with a server based in the UK then all the British TV channels will work perfectly for you. You have to create accounts and supply a UK address for some of them – any address will do there’s no way to check, but you can watch just like someone in the UK.
Here’s a quick demonstration using one of the best value VPN services
Using NordVPN to Access Streaming Sites
This demonstrates watching the BBC from the US but it’s pretty much the same for any UK TV channel from any country. When you use a VPN, your exact location is not relevant only where the VPN server resides in. So, you’d do exactly the same for any of the UK channels like ITV or Channel 4 from any country in the world. As long as you connect to a British server then you can watch UK TV abroad with a fake UK IP address irrespective of where you actually are.
When you connect to the VPN it creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer/phone/laptop to the VPN server. This is the only device that a web site will see your true location is completely hidden. This has created a huge market for VPNs even for people who don’t actually care about their privacy that much. A cheap VPN with servers in the right locations opens up thousands of websites that are normally locked. I started watching UK TV in France and have been enjoying my favourite UK TV channels for nearly 15 years now using a VPN service of some sort. Millions use them to watch live UK TV every day, which is why the best VPN services will have lots of UK servers available.
2023 Update – Some VPNs Don’t Work
It’s worth noting that in the last few years some of the larger media sites have started to block access from VPN services. This includes the best UK ones like BBC iPlayer and ITVX and the other channels to a lesser extent. None of these can identify the VPN directly however they have methods to identify likely VPN connections as they try and connect.
The most simple and effective method is to look for a large number of connections from single IP addresses and address ranges. As most VPN services will allow thousands of users on each IP address then this is highly indicative of a VPN connection. All the site needs to do is look for these concurrent connections and block access to the IP addresses.
Services like CyberGhost, ExpressVPN and Private VPN Got Blocked
Many of the larger and more popular VPN services ended up being useless with sites like BBC iPlayer as all their VPN IP addresses were blocked automatically. There were solutions of course, you had to limit the number on each IP address when connecting to the media sites and ensure that these were rotated regularly.
It was quite time consuming to maintain access to these sites. Most of the cheaper end of the market simply didn’t bother as it wasn’t cost effective which is why now 80-90% of VPN services no longer work with BBC iPlayer for example.
There are a few though which make the effort to maintain access to sites like the BBC iPlayer as they realise how popular they are. You will see lots of posts online stating that VPN’s don’t work with BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub anymore. Don’t listen, they are partly right of course but there are a lot of VPN services which still work – ask their support before subscribing if you’re unsure.
Watch All the British Channels on Any Device
A VPN is the key to unblocking any channel, application or website which is restricted based on your physical location, every single one of the UK’s main TV channels is accessible if you use a decent VPN service to access them.
Whether it’s enjoying the BBC News, following a soap or enjoying some of the best dramas in the world it’s a very wise investment. What’s more if you disconnect from a UK server and switch to a Canadian one or a US one then you can unlock every streaming service in those countries too. Almost every major broadcaster allows access to their domestic customers for free, using a VPN you can become whatever you want to be!
As mentioned, a couple of years ago pretty much any VPN would work, unfortunately this isn’t the case anymore. If you want to watch British TV, then it’s important you pock a reliable VPN that isn’t blocked by the UK TV channels. Having a few UK servers isn’t enough as a large number of these have IP addresses which are blocked by the BBC and ITV in particular. Our favorite one is Nord VPN, but you have to use it properly too.
NordVPN Optimizes Servers for UK Television
Although NordVPN has hundreds of UK servers, only a few of them are optimized to watch the BBC and UK Television stations like BBC iPlayer ITV etc. So, if you want to watch BBC online outside of the UK for example then you need to use these servers. It’s best to ignore the auto connect feature and pick one directly. If you select one of these then you’re much less likely to get blocked – currently these are the best –# 1840-1847, 1850-1863, 1865, 1869, 1873, 1875-1878, 1880-1881, 1900-1901, 1903-1904, 1911, 1913, 1917, 1919-1920. Simply type one of these numbers in the NordVPN search bar and you should be fine. You can add the ones that work best to your favourites, to select next time.
UK TV Proxy Summary – Can I watch UK TV Anywhere?
Yes, UK TV can be watched anywhere in the world, but you may need a VPN to access certain channels and programs. A VPN will allow your device’s IP address to change so that you can watch UK TV without geo-blocking.
Unlock Other Websites – Ask Customer Support
Although by far the most popular use of VPNs besides security is to unblock entertainment sites in the UK and USA there’s plenty more you can use them for. Many people use VPNs to access other sites and services too. For example, many gambling and casino sites won’t work in specific countries due to local laws. Also banking sites will sometime restrict international access to prevent against fraud. Great in some ways but annoying if you’re travelling and need to pay a utility bill!
User Accounts and Registration
The BBC has recently made user accounts mandatory for streaming content from BBC iPlayer. ITV Hub have already done the same and it’s likely Channel 4 and Channel 5 will follow suit. This has worried a lot of people who want to access the BBC and ITV from abroad but there’s no reason to really worry.
Here’s a list of the most common concerns and the information you’ll need.
BBC and ITV User Accounts for Apps
Although now mandatory, these accounts are completely free. All you need is a postcode, an email address and to answer a couple of short questions in order to create them.
First enable your chosen VPN and select a UK VPN before doing anything else!
Here’s the links you need to register for a new account on the BBC and ITV platforms –
BBC – https://account.bbc.com/register?action=sign-in&clientId=Account
ITV Hub – Sign up – ITV Hub
Postcodes and Information Required
Both the main sites will ask you for UK postcode during the registration process. This is nothing to worry about and you definitely don’t need to have a residence in the United Kingdom.
The trick here is to simply ensure that it’s a valid postcode (like a US Zip Code). Pick any legitimate online address and select a postcode and it will work. Remember the BBC will slightly customize your environment based on the location you specify. So, pick a London postcode if you want London local news for example.
UK TV License Requirement
One of the other misleading rumours you’ll see on the internet – is that you need a UK TV license in order to watch online. Although you are asked if you have a UK TV license when you start to stream on BBC iPlayer there’s no physical check. As long as you say Yes when asked if you have a UK TV license then everything will work fine. There’s no check, no ID required or anything like that and it’s unlikely to change in the near future.
Obviously, there’s currently no way to actually buy a UK TV license if you’re based outside the United Kingdom anyway!