How to Watch US TV from Outside the US
We’re living in a golden era for American TV, where the US is producing some of the finest programs in the world. There’s also a growing global audience for US sports and even US news and politics in the age of Trump.
Yet while the Internet has made all this stuff more accessible than ever to those that live within the USA, it’s not always easy to watch it – or even possible – if you’re traveling or live outside the United States. Here we’re going to tell you why and what exactly you can do to fix that.
Why you want US TV but can’t have it
There are several perfectly legitimate reasons why you might want to stream and watch US TV from outside the US. Obviously US citizens want US news and sports when they’re visiting or living elsewhere, and if you pay for US streaming services like Hulu, HBO Now, or Netflix then you probably want to be able to keep up with your favorite shows even when you’re abroad.
Meanwhile, many residents of the UK and other nations might want a way to watch US news or US sports. Finally, there’s no getting past the fact that the US has some fantastic video streaming services that non-US residents can’t access – including Hulu and HBC Now – while the US version of Netflix often has films and programs that are unavailable on Netflix within other territories.
The problem is that most US broadcasters and streaming services restrict streaming to within US borders, using your IP address to determine your location, then blocking the stream if that location is outside the US. There are a couple of ways around this, however, the most obvious being to use a VPN service to disguise your true location.
First, though, some caveats. Some US streaming services require you to sign up for the service before you watch. This might require that you have a US credit card and can provide a US address. Others require you to sign in with details of your US cable subscription; not a problem if you have one, not so great if you don’t.
What’s more, the big streaming services have grown wise to viewers streaming through a VPN, and have put in place means of spotting a VPN and blocking users from accessing the service. While some VPNs do a great job of stating one step ahead of the blockers, there’s no guarantee that what works well now will still work in three weeks’ time.
How to watch US TV from abroad
There’s no shortage of websites and services for watching US TV, including live online broadcasts and catch-up services. CBS, NBC, and ABC all offer free live streams and catch-up TV, but only to viewers connecting from within the US. A few channels don’t have this restriction, so you can watch live streams of CBS News or ABC News from the UK, Europe, or elsewhere, but generally speaking viewers from outside the US will be blocked. There are also some paid online services that aggregate and provide live TV streams from the major US channels, including Watching TV abroad and USTV Now. These services may or may not work for you and there are some concerns over their legality.
Watching US TV from abroad with ExpressVPN on Windows and macOS
The easiest way to watch US TV services from abroad is through a VPN. ExpressVPN is the best choice here because it works across PC, Mac, iOS, and Android, and it works with all the free streaming and catch-up TV services, not to mention paid video streaming services like Hulu, HBO Now and Netflix. There’s a free 30-day trial, too, meaning you can cancel your account if you feel you don’t need a VPN without having to splash out any money.
Sign up for an account at ExpressVPN, then install the app on your computer; versions for both Windows and macOS are available. Once installed, launch the app and log-in with your account details, or create one if you need to.
Using ExpressVPN is really simple, so just follow these instructions to get your US TV fix:
Step 1Open the ExpressVPN client on your Windows or macOS and click the three-dot button beside the country name in the middle bar.
Step 2In the window that opens, you’ll see a list of countries, including the United States. Here you have two options.
Step 3You can either select the United States in the list to connect to the fastest server near you (we recommend doing this).
Step 4Alternatively, you can click the arrow beside the United States to see a list of cities that you can connect.
Step 5As distance is a factor, the US East Coast will usually give you the best performance from the UK or Europe, though US Midwest can also give you good results.
Step 6Now press the big power button above ‘Not connected’ to turn on the VPN and connect to the US server you selected.
Step 7Finally, launch your browser and make your way to the US live stream or streaming service of your choice. Some will work instantly and you should be able to connect to any free streaming services or anywhere you have an existing US subscription. As we mentioned, some US services, like NBC, will require details of your US cable or satellite supplier before you’re allowed to connect.
How to watch US TV from abroad on your smartphone or tablet
Of course, if you’re traveling on vacation rather than traveling for business, you probably don’t have a Windows or macOS laptop with you. If that’s the case, you can still connect to ExpressVPN on your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. You can use ExpressVPN on five devices simultaneously, making it a great option for your entire family or even a group of friends.
Step 1After installing and setting up the app (you only need to do this once), open the ExpressVPN app on your smartphone or tablet (we’re using Android, but the steps will be similar on iOS).
Step 2Now click the three dots beside the country name that you see in the bar at the bottom.
Step 3In the window that opens, you’ll see a list of countries, including the United States. Here you have two options.
Step 4You can either select the United States in the list to connect to the fastest server near you (we recommend doing this).
Step 5Alternatively, you can click the arrow beside the United States to see a list of cities that you can connect.
Step 6As distance is a factor, the US East Coast will usually give you the best performance from the UK or Europe, though US Midwest can also give you good results.
Step 7After making your selection, the VPN will automatically connect to your chosen American city and the power button will turn green indicating you’re connected to a US server.
Step 8Now open the app that you want to use to watch US TV on your device, including Netflix, HBO Now, or Hulu.
Step 9Some will work instantly and you should be able to connect to any free streaming services or anywhere you have an existing US subscription. As we mentioned, some US services, like NBC, will require details of your US cable or satellite supplier before you’re allowed to connect.