How to Watch PBS from Anywhere | Stream Without Cable in 2020!
Ever been traveling outside the US, trying to catch up with Family Pictures on PBS, only to see: “We’re sorry but this video is not available in your region due to rights restrictions“?
Or tried to download the PBS app from the App Store or Play Store only to be blocked by, “This item is not available in your country“?
Not necessarily. PBS geoblocks its content outside the US but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite shows if you’re elsewhere.
You can easily bypass PBS’ geo-restrictions and unblock its content outside the US with the help of a VPN.
Quick Guide: How to Watch PBS from Anywhere
- Find a VPN with US-based servers. ExpressVPN is our favorite for unblocking and streaming.
- Download and install the correct VPN app for your device.
- Choose a server in the US – any state will work.
- Head over to the PBS site and enjoy!
Why You Need a VPN to Watch PBS
PBS’ disclaimer says that it blocks viewers outside the US due to rights restrictions. This usually means that a broadcaster has paid for the streaming rights to a show in one country only — in this case, the US.
Any viewers watching shows from outside the US breach PBS’ contract. To prevent this, PBS uses geoblocking.
Geoblocks detect your location using your IP address. If the PBS site sees that you’re not based in the US, it stops you from accessing its content.
To get around geo-restrictions, you need to use a VPN to make yourself appear as though you are watching PBS from the US.
VPNs can trick streaming sites by geo-spoofing your IP address. When you connect to a VPN server, the VPN masks your real IP address with one of its own.
If you connect to a VPN server in the US, you get a US IP address. PBS will think you’re watching from within the US and unblock all of its content.
It’s worth noting that not all VPNs can unblock geo-restricted sites. You need to choose a VPN with a large server network and good unblocking capabilities.
Good connection speeds are also important if you don’t want to get stuck on buffer!
That’s Not All a VPN Can Do
Have you ever noticed that targeted ads appear on social media after you visit certain websites?
This is because social media sites and other third parties track you across the internet using cookies. This information is then sold to advertisers who use it to target you with ads.
A VPN stops third parties from tracking and monitoring your online behavior.
VPNs use secure ‘tunnels’ to connect you to their servers. Because these connections are encrypted and your IP address is hidden, your traffic cannot be intercepted or interpreted.
This prevents snooping by anyone from social media trackers to ISPs and hackers.
The security offered by a VPN is especially helpful if you connect to a public wi-fi while you’re out and about.
Open, public hotspots are not secured. A VPN gives you an extra layer of protection when using public wi-fi. It will prevent other network users from being able to intercept your data or infiltrate your device.
4 Best VPNs for Watching PBS
ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN around, it came out on top in our VPN speed tests, which means fast, uninterrupted streaming for you.
The service also has more than 30 different server locations in the US, so unblocking PBS is no problem.
ExpressVPN’s security is world-class. Features include AES 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and DNS and IPv6 leak protection that promises to keep your data private. You can protect up to 5 devices under one profile.
The only downside to ExpressVPN is that it can be more expensive than other services. The VPN’s customers think it’s worth it but you can trial it for yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
ExpressVPN can unblock:
- Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, Showtime, Sling TV, DAZN, and BBC iPlayer.
- Yes, all servers support P2P activity.
ExpressVPN works on these devices:
- Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, Linux, Chrome, and Firefox. It also offers an app for use with certain routers.
Cheap but functional, Surfshark has US servers, reliable speeds and a useful Quick Connect feature that automatically connects you to the best server for streaming PBS.
Military-grade encryption, DNS leak protection, and an automatic kill switch all make Surfshark a secure VPN. However real users are most impressed with the service’s extra features like the malware, ad, tracking, and phishing blocking software, CleanWeb.
Another highlight is the unlimited device connections under one license. Test Surfshark’s streaming abilities out on your devices with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Surfshark can unblock:
- Netflix, Hulu, CBS, ESPN, Amazon Prime Video, and others.
- Yes, all servers support P2P activity.
Surfshark works on these devices:
- Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, FireTV, Linux, Chrome, and Firefox.
CyberGhost is one of our reviewers’ favorite VPNs for streaming. It has dedicated streaming profiles that connect you to the best streaming-optimized servers for your chosen location. One-tap connect makes streaming fast and easy and you’ll have over 1,000 US servers to choose from.
You and your whole household can enjoy watching PBS from anywhere, with up to 7 simultaneous connections. A built-in ad, malware, and tracking blocker guards against cyber threats and attacks.
Best of all, you get a 24-hour free trial and a 45-day money-back guarantee to make sure CyberGhost is right for you before you make any commitments.
CyberGhost can unblock:
- Dedicated streaming profile with servers optimized for: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, Hulu, Comedy Central, Eurosport, ESPN, and others.
- Yes, the dedicated profile shows countries and number of users.
CyberGhost works on these devices:
- Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire Stick, Android TV, Linux, and Chrome.
Streaming is easy with NordVPN. SmartPlay technology automatically connects you to the best streaming-optimized server for your chosen region. The VPN also boasts some of the fastest speeds available.
You can use NordVPN on up to 6 devices simultaneously. Each device will be protected by military-grade encryption and CyberSec malware and ad-blocking software.
If you prefer to test things before you buy them, check out our guide to getting a NordVPN free trial with the service’s 30-day money-back guarantee.
NordVPN can unblock:
- Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Showtime, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Sling TV.
- Yes, P2P specialty servers available.
NordVPN works on these devices:
- Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, Linux, Chrome, and Firefox. It’s also compatible with routers.
Summary and Further Reading
PBS is packed with great shows and you shouldn’t miss out just because you’re outside the US. A VPN can unblock all of PBS’ content and more.
Just remember to choose a service that has fast and reliable speeds, good unblocking capabilities, and plenty of servers in the US. ExpressVPN has all of these features and more.
Want to know more about geo-restrictions and how VPNs get around them? Check out our complete guide to geoblocking.
Or, want to access more excellent American shows and movies outside the US? Here’s how to unblock Netflix US for a start.