Last Updated on May 30, 2023
Watch BBC Shows Online Free: Stream Live Anywhere in the World
In this world of high-quality streaming services, there are some channels which stand out. Not because of their undoubted quality, or the huge number of different shows ranging from documentaries, dramas, news, comedies and much more. It’s because they’re available entirely free of charge, no cost as long as you stay away from the various premium versions which don’t offer very much more anyway. I’m talking about the UK’s broadcasting channels – BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. All of whom have wonderful internet sites where you can stream their shows to your computer, smart TV, phone or whichever device you wish. Here you can discover how to watch British TV online free streaming, read on or just click the link below if you just want a VPN that works with British TV.
Are British TV Shows Free?
Yes, they are, but there is a slight caveat and that is British TV is only available in the UK and those who have a valid TV license. If you are not located in the UK, you will not be able to watch British TV. Yet don’t worry as millions of us outside the UK have discovered there’s quite a few ways to get around this. The most popular is to watch from outside the UK using a VPN or proxy server.
There are a few other factors to consider too, check out the following for more information –
British TV Channels are limited to the UK TV License Payers
Which unfortunately is only available in the UK. You can’t buy the UK TV license outside the United Kingdom even if you want to legitimately watch from abroad. However, there’s only one of the UK TV sites for which it’s supposedly compulsory and that’s the BBC. Indeed, when you try and start watching anything on BBC iPlayer then you’ll usually be presented by a screen like this –
Looks pretty bad news, especially if it’s impossible for you to buy one anyway! It’s not actually a problem though as there is no proper enforcement or even check. As long as you say “I have a TV license. Watch Now” then everything will work just fine. If you select “I don’t have a TV licence” then you’ll be redirected to the main part of the site without all the programs and streaming content,
It’s surprising that the BBC haven’t done anything to enforce the license requirement, yet it seems a conscious decision. The BBC was planning to implement some proper checks with regards to European mandates on digital goods and services. However, since leaving the European Union that project was shelved, and it doesn’t seem that the BBC will implement any sort of TV license verification anytime soon.
None of the other UK TV sites even ask if you’ve got a TH license although there’s probably something written in the terms and conditions if you want to look!
Creating Accounts on British TV Sites
All the main British television sites now ask you to register to use their services. Although it’s only ITV Hub and BBC iPlayer that it’s now compulsory. This can be a little intimidating if you’re trying to watch from outside the UK without a TV license.
Actually, there’s very little to worry about and creating an account is pretty straight forward on all the platforms. They’re primarily used to personalise the service and do things like watch lists plus remember your watch lists – handy when watching large box sets.
There’s a couple of things you need before creating an account though.
- Make sure you’ve hidden your location (see next section)
- Have a valid email account (to validate your account)
- Couple of sites ask for a UK postal code as verification
Again, nothing to worry about, firstly you need a VPN to hide your real location if you’re outside the UK. Any valid email account will do, including free services. Although you also need a valid UK postcode to enter, there’s no further check. Just pinch one from any UK business address or anything online – if you can’t find one pick a postcode from this site. Remember this is considered your location, so you’ll get the service localized to this. So, if you pick a Northwest address, you’ll get BBC News Northwest and so on. Don’t worry you can change location after if you want.
Using a VPN to Watch BBC iPlayer Shows, ITV, All and Many More
VPNs are needed in order to get around the geo-restrictions used by virtually every major media site in the world. This means that if you are trying to watch a show that is only available in the UK, for example, you will need a VPN in order to access it. The BBC iPlayer is one such service that requires a VPN in order to stream its content.
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a great way to unblock other streaming services. So, if you can use one to watch BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and 4OD in Spain or anywhere located outside of the United Kingdom. It can also be used to unblock Netflix and Amazon Prime Video when you’re traveling or living abroad. A VPN encrypts your traffic and routes it through a server in a location of your choosing, making it appear as if you are located in that country. This allows you to access content that is blocked in your location.
Here’s how it works using NordVPN –
In theory any VPN with a server based in the UK should work. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case as during the last couple of years some of the sites have clamped down on this ‘workaround’.
They use a variety of method to detect VPN connections which you can read about more fully here. However, the most effective method has been simply monitoring for too many concurrent connections on the same IP address. When the BBC for example detects 5.,000 people all streaming Match of the Day using the exact same address then it’s likely they’re using a VPN service.
It’s then a simple task to block that particular IP address and everyone will lose their connection. This can even be done automatically which makes it cheaper to implement a block too. The solution for the VPN services is to monitor the number of outbound connections to these sites and rotate the IP addresses accordingly, this takes a little effort but can keep the VPN working with the specific site too.
BBC iPlayer Open and Optimized Servers
When people talk about accessing British TV online, they’re often referring to one specific site – BBC iPlayer. Prior to 2020 virtually every VPN service with a UK server would allow access to BBC iPlayer anywhere in the world. However, for some reason, that year the BBC started to actively try and block these services. They were extremely successful putting in security measures that blocked access to a large proportion of these services.
All the free proxies and VPNs have been blocked, simply because they were very easy to detect with overloaded servers and network addresses. The vast majority of the commercial VPNs suffered the same fate – most unable or unwilling to keep access open.
Only some of the smaller specialized VPN services and the companies with more resources remained. Probably the biggest name is the largest VPN company around – NordVPN who put a lot of resources into maintaining access to the BBC iPlayer.
NordVPN BBC Servers
NordVPN have optimized specific servers to maintain access to the BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub websites. It’s extremely difficult to do across all their UK servers so have taken the decision to focus on specific ones. These are the UK servers that NordVPN users should use when connecting to the BBC iPlayer.
UK# 1840-1847, 1850-1863, 1865, 1869, 1873, 1875-1878, 1880-1881, 1900-1901, 1903-1904, 1911, 1913, 1917, 1919-1920.
You can see that only the server names are specified which allows them to rotate the IP addresses assigned to each one. Other Nord UK servers will work but these are the ones that are maintained. If you’re finding your VPN blocked by the BBC, find a service which does this.
Where Can I Watch Live TV online?
There are a variety of ways to watch live British TV online. You can join many online expat communities too in order to discuss British TV and take part in chat, groups and meet other fans of British TV. Some of the most popular options include BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, and 4OD.
There are a host of others of course. Most countries have media and TV sites which stream online usually restricted to their domestic market. A VPN can open those up as long as the VPN service you use has servers in that country. So, as you need UK servers for British TV, you’ll use French servers for channels like M6 Replay and so on. It’s one of the reasons that the biggest VPN services will have a presence in most major countries to facilitate this access.
There are also a number of live TV streaming services available to watch live TV online. The most popular are:
- – Hulu
- – Netflix
- – Amazon Prime
- – Sling TV
- – PlayStation Vue
- – YouTube TV
- – CBS All Access
- – DirecTV Now
Some of these services are locked to specific locations, others change depending on your location. Netflix and Amazon Prime will deliver different content depending on where you access the site from irrespective of your nationality. You can also use the VPN to change these settings too – for example you could use a US VPN connection to change your Netflix version to a US based one (which has more movies than most others).
What App Can I Watch British TV on?
British TV shows are some of the most popular in the world, and viewers now have a variety of ways to watch them online. Some services, like BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, allow viewers to watch shows live or on-demand. Others, like 4OD, let viewers download or record content for later viewing. No matter what service you choose, you can enjoy your favorite British TV shows anytime, anywhere.
Britons can watch their favorite British TV shows on the BBC iPlayer app. The app is available for free on many devices, including smartphones and tablets from Apple and Android, as well as PCs, Macs and games consoles. The BBC iPlayer app has a range of features such as live streaming, catch-up viewing and recordings.
For British expats, the BBC iPlayer app is an essential tool for keeping up with their favourite programmes. The app has a range of features including live streaming, catch-up viewing and recordings. In addition, Britons can also use the BBC iPlayer app to access programmes from past seasons or from specific countries or regions such as England, Scotland or Wales.
BritBox is a streaming service owned jointly by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. It offers access to British content that is not available any other way legally. This includes British soap operas, panel shows, and live events. The selection of titles on BritBox changes from time to time, but typically there are around hundreds of titles available. It focuses on the back catalogues of these sites so has a lot of older TV shows and films. Great if you’re looking for a trip down memory lane with some truly wonderful shows from the last few decades.
It’s currently available in USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom. You can only access from these locations using your account. You can use a VPN to gain access too, but you will have to have a means of payment in one of those countries to set up your subscription. Don’t waste your money on a VPN to access Britbox unless you have a valid debit/credit card in one of those locations.
Using a VPN to Watch BBC iPlayer
For many people it may come down to a choice of subscribing to Britbox and watching UK TV shows legitimately or buying a VPN service. The cost of a VPN is lower for the biggest providers than a BritBox subscription but there’s not a lot in it.
Clearly it depends on what your viewing preferences are. Firstly, if you want to watch current or live TV then you need to use the proper sites. BBC iPlayer has twelve live streaming channels which broadcast 24/7 and where you can watch all the latest programmes including things like news, current affairs, sports events etc. The same is true on the other UK TV channels all of which have lots of news and live streaming shows as well. It also works for hundreds of other channels too so not only can watch the BBC in Places like USA but any channel that geoblocks in this way (basically all of them!).
Britbox is more of an archive, none of the latest shows are on it, although they don’t take long to be added. In reality it’s possibly targeted at older viewers who can enjoy a trip down memory lane with some of the shows from previous decades.