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vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

How to Watch UK TV Online in 2024 — Quick & Easy Guide

Doris Muthuri Updated on 13th December 2023 Fact-checked by Emma Browne Senior Writer

Due to broadcasting restrictions, many UK TV channels are exclusively available to British residents. For example, you can only watch platforms like BBC iPlayer, ITVX, and Channel 4 if you’re within the country. They check your IP to determine your location.

Theoretically, you can use a VPN to get a UK IP address and watch UK TV abroad. However, it's important to remember using a VPN for this purpose could violate the streaming platform’s Terms of Service and be seen as copyright infringement. You can, however, use a VPN to avoid ISP throttling and protect your connection while streaming UK TV from the UK.

If you’re in the UK, ExpressVPN is my top choice for safely watching UK TV in HD. It has plenty of local servers in the country, so you can enjoy your favorite shows and movies without interruptions. Plus, it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try ExpressVPN totally risk-free.

Watch UK TV in HD >>

Quick Guide: How to Watch UK TV With a VPN in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Download a VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN because it’s very easy to use on any compatible device and has fast speeds for HD or UHD streaming.
  2. From the UK, connect to a nearby server. The closer the server is to your location in the UK, the better speeds you’ll get.
  3. Start streaming. Sign in to your favorite platforms, like BBC iPlayer, and enjoy streaming UK TV shows wherever you are in the UK.
Important! My team and I strongly oppose any copyright violation. The VPN services we recommend below strictly follow audited no-logging policies, guaranteeing that they won't monitor or record your online activities. So, it's your responsibility to use a VPN in a lawful manner, and we urge you to comply with all relevant rules and regulations.

Best VPNs to Watch UK TV Online in 2024

1. ExpressVPN — Intuitive Apps to Easily Watch UK TV on Any Device

Best Feature Beginner-friendly apps suitable for any type of VPN user
Server Network 3,000 servers in 105 countries, including 5 locations in the UK — tons of choice for local UK connections
Speeds Extremely fast — only a 7% speed drop on local UK servers, so you can watch your favorite shows in HD or UHD
Compatible With Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, browsers, smart TVs, Fire devices, routers, and more

ExpressVPN has easy-to-use apps that are similar across all OSs, making it intuitive to use for streaming, even for VPN beginners. To watch your favorite UK TV content from within the UK, all you need to do is select a UK server from the list and double-click on it to connect. You can even add the UK TV platforms that you watch the most as a shortcut that appears on the app’s main screen. This way, you can protect your connection while streaming with just a click.

Its fast speeds allow you to watch UK TV from within the country with no buffering. My UK colleagues tested its UK-East London servers and had an average slowdown of 7%. With these speeds, they could stream Love Island on ITVX without buffering. They also had a smooth streaming experience on Sky Go and iPlayer. We tested all its protocols on servers local to us, and Lightway gave us the best speeds for streaming content.

A screenshot showing Love Island playing on ITVX while connected to ExpressVPN's East London serverAll UK servers our UK team tried worked reliably with ITVX and other UK streaming platforms

I like that ExpressVPN has native apps for almost all popular streaming devices, including Fire Stick. Plus, you can configure it on your router and stream on devices that don’t support VPN apps, like old smart TVs and gaming consoles. It took one of our UK testers about 10 minutes to configure it on their router and stream BBC iPlayer on their PS5.

ExpressVPN is a bit expensive, but it often offers free months of service on long-term plans. Every subscription plan is covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it without risk. To test this policy, I contacted customer support through 24/7 live support and requested a refund. I received money in my bank account 2 days later.

Useful Features

  • Split tunneling. You can choose which apps use the VPN connection and which don't. This frees up some bandwidth so you can stream in the best possible quality.
  • Simultaneous connections. You can connect up to 8 devices simultaneously, so you can protect and stream on all of your gadgets or share your subscription with your family.
  • MediaStreamer. This is ExpressVPN’s Smart DNS that comes for free, and it’s an alternative to the full VPN service. It offers UK DNS addresses, so it’s ideal for watching UK TV from the UK on devices that don’t support VPN apps.
  • 24/7 customer support. ExpressVPN’s round-the-clock customer support ensures that there’s always someone to help if you experience any troubles while streaming.
ExpressVPN Offer March 2024: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

2. CyberGhost — Optimized Streaming Servers Make It Easy to Find The Best Local UK TV Connection

Best Feature Multiple optimized servers in the UK designed to give you a smooth streaming experience
Server Network 11,690 servers in 100 countries, including 3 UK server locations — great for speedy, local UK connections
Speeds Really fast — a 5% drop on local UK servers, perfect for streaming in high quality
Compatible With Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, browsers, smart TVs, Fire devices, routers, and more

CyberGhost has servers optimized for specific UK platforms like Sky Go and Prime Video UK. Its team constantly monitors these servers to make sure they work to ensure you can reliably stream UK TV from within the country. Our UK testers streamed BBC iPlayer on its optimized server, and it worked perfectly. This helps take the guesswork out of finding the best server for watching TV in the UK.

A screenshot of CyberGhost's optimized UK TV streaming serversYou can even favorite these servers to easily connect next time

My colleagues in the UK didn’t experience any buffering when watching UK TV. Similar to ExpressVPN, they found an average slowdown of 5% on these UK streaming servers when connecting from within the country. This means that you’ll have more than enough speed to stream in UHD.

CyberGhost’s apps are super intuitive, which makes them effortless to use. After signing up for an account, it took me less than 30 seconds to download and install it. The streaming servers are neatly grouped in the For streaming tab, and each one is clearly marked with the platforms they work for.

The only downside is that CyberGhost’s monthly plan is pretty pricey and comes with a shorter money-back guarantee period of 14 days. But you can sign up for CyberGhost with a long-term subscription for as low as $2.19/month. Its longer plans come with the full 45-day money-back guarantee.

Useful Features

  • Wi-Fi protection. This feature helps secure your connection from potential threats when streaming UK TV using public Wi-Fi networks in British airports, cafés, or libraries.
  • Router compatible. You can configure CyberGhost on your router and stream on devices that do not natively support VPNs, such as your gaming consoles. However, unlike ExpressVPN, there’s no custom router app.
  • Smart DNS. This is a handy, beginner-friendly alternative to installing a VPN on your router. With this Smart DNS service, you can watch UK TV from within the country on your smart TV or gaming console.
March 2024 Deal: CyberGhost is currently offering 84% off its most popular plan! Take advantage of this offer now and save more on your CyberGhost subscription.

3. Private Internet Access (PIA) — Tons of Settings to Optimize Your Connection for UK TV

Best Feature Customizable security settings let you optimize your local UK connection for streaming speed, security, or a mix of the two
Server Network 29,650 servers in 91 countries, including 3 UK server locations — great coverage so you won’t come across a laggy, congested server
Speeds Fast — an 8% drop on local UK servers, which is still more than enough to watch BBC iPlayer with no lag
Compatible With Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, browsers, smart TVs, Fire devices, routers, and more

PIA lets you optimize your connection for streaming UK TV on local servers with tons of customizable settings. You can choose to use OpenVPN with 128-bit encryption for the best possible speeds or WireGuard and 256-bit encryption for a good mix of speed and security. Our UK testing team only found an 8% drop on UK servers with WireGuard, so they could watch UK TV lag-free.

Watching Sanditon on ITVX with PIAMy UK colleagues had minimal speed drop on the Southampton server

You can also use PIA on as many devices as you want at once. If you have a large family (or just have a lot of gadgets), everyone can safely stream the shows they love without interrupting anyone else. To test this out, I connected 7 devices to a local server and watched my regional Netflix library on all of them without issues.

The only issue I had is that PIA can be a bit overwhelming for VPN beginners due to its wide array of settings. That said, the app comes pre-configured, so you don’t need to change anything to get great speeds for streaming.

All PIA plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it for free. I requested a refund through the 24/7 chat support and got my money back in my bank account 6 days later.

Useful Features

  • Quick Connect. PIA offers a widget that shows you the last 6 locations you used. This makes it easy to continue streaming where you left off with just a click.
  • Server ping info. Next to each server in the app, you can find information about the ping. The lower the number, the closer the server is to you, which translates to better speeds for streaming.
March 2024 Update: PIA doesn't usually have deals or discounts (it's already so affordable), but right now you can get a new subscription for a crazy 82% off!

4. NordVPN — Excellent Speeds for Streaming UK Content Locally Without Buffering

Best Feature The fastest speeds we tested for streaming British TV in UHD on nearby servers
Server Network 6,105 servers in 61 countries, including 4 server locations in the UK — no matter where you are in the country, you can find a speedy nearby connection
Speeds Extremely fast — an average speed drop of 4% on local UK servers, so you won’t notice the speed drop
Compatible With Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, browsers, smart TVs, Fire devices, routers, and more

NordVPN offers fantastic speeds on nearby UK servers, so it’s great for watching UK TV in HD lag-free. Our UK team tested the speeds and lost an average of only 4% of their base speed when connected to nearby UK servers. They streamed The Chase in UHD with no issues.

A screenshot showing a speed test from Slough, UK to a server in London, UKIf you’ve got a decent base connection, you won’t notice a speed drop this small

NordVPN’s SmartPlay makes streaming UK TV more reliable by combining the benefits of a VPN and a Smart DNS. It’s an automatic feature that is enabled by default, so you don’t have to configure it or change any settings. It works in the background to give you the best streaming experience possible.

The only drawback is that NordVPN’s Windows app was a bit slow to launch. It took 15–20 seconds more to launch than the rest of the VPN apps on this list. But after that, the app worked smoothly, and the team and I didn’t experience any other delays while testing.

You can even try NordVPN for free since all plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Useful Features

  • User-friendly apps. It’s easy to find NordVPN’s UK servers — simply drag the world map until you find your country, then zoom in to connect to a specific city. This makes it a fantastic choice for non-technical users.

5. Surfshark — Stream UK Content on an Unlimited Number of Devices Simultaneously

Best Feature Unlimited device connections let every person in your household safely watch British TV with no arguments
Server Network 3,200 servers in 100 countries, including 4 UK server locations — so there’s always a fast, uncongested server nearby
Speeds Fast — an 8% drop on local UK servers, so plenty of speed to watch in HD
Compatible With Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, browsers, smart TVs, Fire devices, routers, and more

Surfshark lets you connect an unlimited number of devices at once, so everyone can watch their favorite BBC iPlayer or NOW TV shows without arguing over the remote. When testing, I tried Surfshark on my PC, iPad, TV, and two iPhones doing different activities and didn’t experience any significant drop in speed.

The apps are pre-configured, and they offer some automatic features, so you don’t have to worry about choosing the best streaming settings yourself. For example, it chooses the best protocol for you, and you can even set it to automatically connect to a UK server of your choice.

A screenshot of Surfshark's UK serversYou can also click on CleanWeb or Kill Switch to quickly adjust their settings

There’s also a handy built-in speed test, but I was disappointed I couldn’t use this while I was connected to a server. That said, it wasn’t too much trouble to disconnect, test, and re-connect again.

Surfshark offers a solid 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out for free. I tested the guarantee and got my money back in my bank account in 7 working days.

Useful Features

  • Private DNS on every server. Surfshark routes your data through private DNS servers. This means you can keep your streaming completely private from your ISP, preventing them from throttling your speeds just because you’re watching TV.

Tips on Choosing the Best VPN for Watching UK TV

All the VPNs on my list offer great speeds and are great for safely streaming UK TV from the UK. Still, if you want to test these out yourself, here are a few criteria to pay attention to:

  • Servers in the UK. I only chose VPNs with many servers in the UK. Having multiple local servers in the UK can help you avoid server overcrowding, which can result in increased buffering and load times.
  • Fast speeds. I only shortlisted the VPNs that offer fast speeds so you can stream UK TV shows from within the country without buffering.
  • Easy to use. I looked for VPNs that have straightforward and easy-to-use apps, so you can quickly connect to a nearby UK server and start watching UK TV.
  • Reliable customer support. I made sure that the VPNs on my list have knowledgeable customer support (via email, live chat, or contact form) so you can quickly get answers to all your questions.
  • Trustworthy money-back guarantee. I made sure to pick only VPNs with a reliable money-back guarantee so you can try them with your favorite local UK streaming platforms without risking your money.

Where Can I Watch UK TV Online?

You can watch UK TV freely if you’re within the country. Streaming sites scan your IP address to make sure you can only watch content that they’re licensed to broadcast in your location. If you try accessing services like BBC iPlayer from abroad, you’ll see this kind of error message:

BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.

A screenshot of BBC iPlayer showing an error message when connecting to it from outside the UKBBC iPlayer offers some tips if you’re in the UK and still getting this message

If you’re not in the UK and need your British TV fix, then some shows are available elsewhere. For example, BritBox is available in the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and some EU countries. You can sometimes find UK TV on platforms like Netflix, Hayu, or Amazon Prime Video, too.

Note: Although you can theoretically use a VPN to access UK TV content from abroad, this goes against T&Cs and could lead to copyright infringement.

How to Watch UK TV on Different Devices With a VPN

Please note that the guides below are intended to show you how to watch UK TV with a UK VPN server from within the UK. This is important in order not to break any streaming platform’s T&Cs, or worse, infringe on copyright.

Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS

The following method can also work for other operating systems and streaming devices like Linux, Fire Stick, and Android TV, provided that your chosen VPN offers apps for them. That’s why I recommend ExpressVPN — it offers apps for a huge range of devices.

  1. Download the VPN. You can download your device’s native app from the VPN’s website or from the device’s official app store.
  2. From the UK, connect to a nearby server. Once installed, launch the app and find a UK server from the list.
  3. Start watching UK TV. Open your favorite streaming platforms, like ITVX and My5, and start streaming.

Smart TV, Roku, Kodi, Chromecast, and More

Devices like smart TVs and media players like Kodi don’t typically support VPN apps. So you’ve got two options here — you can either install a VPN on your router or use a Smart DNS service.

I recommend installing a VPN on your router to watch British shows on your smart TV from within the UK. This also allows you to simultaneously secure all your devices without needing to install the VPN on each.

It’s a slightly technical process, but it’ll be just as reliable with UK TV platforms as it is on your PC, tablet, or smartphone. Every VPN on my list is compatible with the most popular routers. Plus, they offer step-by-step guides on how to configure your router.

  1. Check your router. Not every router can support a VPN, so the first step is to determine which brand your router is.
  2. Sign up for a VPN. Choose a VPN that supports your router brand. I recommend ExpressVPN if you have an Asus, Linksys, or Netgear router. It offers a router app that makes connecting to a server much easier than other VPNs.
  3. Configure the VPN on your router. Look for the setup guide for your VPN and router, and follow the steps to set it up. Once complete, all the devices connected to the router will be using the VPN.
  4. From the UK, connect to a nearby server. The process might vary depending on your router and VPN — check the guide for instructions.
  5. Start watching UK TV. You can now avoid ISP throttling and safely stream your favorite local content using any device, like your smart TV.

The other option is to use a Smart DNS service, but it’s not the most reliable. A Smart DNS might give you faster speeds for streaming, but it’s not secure since it doesn’t offer encryption. To use it, you just need to change your UK DNS address your device uses to the UK Smart DNS address. Simply follow the step-by-step instructions given on the VPN website to do this.

FAQs on Watching UK TV Online With a VPN

What can I do if my UK TV VPN stops working?

First of all, make sure you’re using a reputable VPN that works reliably with UK TV platforms. Once you’ve sorted that, there are a few other easy things you can try:

  • Switch servers. Streaming platforms may block IPs they suspect are from VPNs. This is really frustrating when you’re connecting from within the UK and just using a VPN to protect your data or avoid ISP throttling. Try changing your server or reconnecting to get a new IP.
  • Try a different browser. It’s possible that your browser is the issue. Switching to another one might resolve it. You can also try clearing your browser’s cache and cookies.

Can I watch UK TV without a TV license?

It depends on what you’re streaming. You need a TV license if you’re watching live broadcasts in the UK or you want to use BBC iPlayer. That said, you can watch any other UK streaming service from within the country without needing a TV license — you just can’t watch live broadcasts.

Is it possible to watch UK TV for free?

Yes — many UK TV platforms, including ITVX, All 4, and My5, are free to watch or have free content.

If you’re planning on watching with a VPN, you can try any of my recommendations risk-free for some time with their money-back guarantees. Remember that even though a VPN can hypothetically let you watch UK TV from abroad by giving you a UK IP address, that goes against most platforms’ T&Cs and could even constitute copyright infringement. The team and I don’t condone using a VPN for any illicit activity.

You can, however, use a VPN to connect to a UK server from within the UK and stream your usual content safely without sacrificing your speeds and picture quality. VPNs can help you avoid ISP throttling.

Can I use a free VPN to watch British TV abroad?

You can theoretically use a free VPN to get a UK IP address and hypothetically watch British TV from outside the country, but I don’t endorse this. This would break the streaming platform’s terms of service and could even be considered copyright infringement. Instead, if you want to watch UK TV abroad, consider using another platform that’s licensed to show the content you love in your country.

How do I watch UK TV online in the USA, France, and Spain?

UK TV platforms like BBC iPlayer are only available in the UK. But you can watch some UK TV in the US with BritBox or France and Spain with Hayu.

What devices can I use to watch UK TV with a VPN?

You can watch UK TV on various devices with a VPN, such as:

  • Desktop PCs: Windows, macOS, and Linux
  • Mobiles and tablets: iOS, iPad, Fire tablet, Android, Kindle, and more
  • Streaming devices: Chromecast, Echo Show, Echo Spot, Fire Stick, Fire TV, Kodi, Roku, smart TVs, Sky Q, TiVO, Xfinity, and more
  • Game consoles: PlayStation, Switch, Xbox

Remember that UK TV platforms are typically only available in the UK, and theoretically using a VPN to watch them elsewhere would be breaking their Terms of Use. If you want to watch UK TV abroad, then look at alternative platforms like BritBox that are licensed to show this content in other countries outside the UK.

Is it illegal to watch UK TV from abroad?

It’s complicated. If you watch a UK TV platform like BBC iPlayer abroad, you’ll be breaking the platform’s Terms of Use. It might even be considered a copyright violation, which does carry legal penalties. So, it's your responsibility to adhere to all relevant streaming rules and guidelines when using a VPN to stream UK TV in HD safely.

However, if you’re watching an alternative streaming service like BritBox in a country where it’s licensed to show UK TV, then that’s perfectly fine.

Can I watch UK TV abroad without a VPN?

You can only watch UK TV abroad on streaming services that aren’t exclusive to the UK. BritBox is available across the US, Canada, Australia, and some EU countries, and regional Netflix or Prime Video libraries may be licensed to show UK TV.

Watch UK TV in Minutes

Most UK TV is available only in the UK. UK TV platforms check your location based on your IP address. If you’re outside the UK, you won’t be able to watch their content. Although a VPN can theoretically let you watch UK TV from abroad, that goes against most streaming platforms’ T&Cs. It can even amount to copyright infringement. The team and I don’t condone using a VPN for any illegal activities.

However, you can use a VPN to avoid ISP throttling and stream in better quality — for that, I recommend ExpressVPN. It has multiple server locations in the UK, and it works reliably with UK TV streaming platforms. Plus, you can try it completely risk-free since it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

To summarize, the best VPNs for watching UK TV online are…

Rank
Provider
Our Score
Discount
Visit Website
1
medal
9.9 /10
9.9 Our Score
Save 49%!
2
9.7 /10
9.7 Our Score
Save 84%!
3
9.5 /10
9.5 Our Score
Save 82%!
4
9.4 /10
9.4 Our Score
Save 67%!
5
9.3 /10
9.3 Our Score
Save 82%!
Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

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The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

Visit ExpressVPN

We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
Learn more
vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

About the Author

Doris is a tech writer and a cybersecurity researcher for vpnMentor. She is enthusiastic about educating people about their rights to online freedom and provides actionable ways to protect their data.

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