If you’re a resident of the United States who regularly travels outside of your home country, a fan of American television who lives outside the U.S. or a U.S. expat, you may have run into issues with being able to view your favorite television shows online.
Many U.S. television networks and streaming services restrict the viewing of their shows and movies to viewers located inside American borders. This makes it tough for fans of U.S. situation comedies to follow the antics of that wacky next-door neighbor.
You’ll be glad to learn that all is not lost.
The Best Way to Watch U.S. TV Online From Abroad
Most U.S.-based television networks limit access to their shows to viewers who live inside U.S. borders and have an American IP address.
Luckily, it’s still possible to view U.S. TV online by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
A VPN assigns your connected devices a new, temporary IP address inside the United States. This can make it appear that you’re located in New York City, even if you’re sipping a cup of coffee in a Parisian café.
From my long-time experience with various VPN providers, I can heartily recommend ExpressVPN as the best VPN available to unblock American TV streams. The provider delivers fast speeds and efficient blocking power from nearly anywhere in the world.
A 30-day money-back guarantee means you’ll have plenty of time to decide if ExpressVPN is the right VPN for your needs.
In this article, I’ll share a detailed guide about the best way to stream American television when you’re roaming the globe.
About U.S. Television
Regularly scheduled programming on major U.S. television networks was sparse until the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Television was considered a luxury during the early 1950s, as an average television set would go for $400 USD or more, a substantial sum at the time. (That’s equivalent to $4,258 in 2019.)
While television networks have come and gone over the years, the four major broadcast networks today are CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX. The upstart CW network is popular with younger viewers.
All of the broadcast networks – as well as most cable networks – offer streaming services, where their programming is available to internet users.
All of these streaming services are restricted to viewers whose connected devices have an IP address located inside American borders.
Why Are International Users Banned From U.S. TV Streams?
Although you may have a subscription to U.S.-based TV streaming services, you’ll likely find that you are blocked from viewing the service’s shows when you’re in another country.
American television networks don’t restrict viewing to inside U.S. borders simply to be difficult. The reason comes down to one thing: the almighty dollar.
If American streaming services allowed international viewers to access their shows, they would lose revenue. American television networks, and the shows’ producers, make a sweet pile of cash by selling the international viewing rights for their shows on a country-by-country basis.
If a viewer in Italy could watch “The Goldbergs” for free by connecting to the ABC streaming service in the U.S., what incentive would there be for an Italian streaming service to pay for episodes of the popular TV comedy? Nessuno, that’s how much incentive there would be.
This is the biggest reason, but there can be other reasons for international viewing restrictions. They can be applied simply due to local censorship laws. Countries ruled by extremely controlling regimes may not want their citizens watching entertainment from the free world.
How Is Content Geographically Blocked?
When your device connects to the internet, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns it an Internet Protocol Address (IP address).
An IP address tells other computers on the internet where to send the information your device requests, much like your home’s mailing address lets your friends know where to send their greeting cards.
An IP address is designed in such a way that it reveals your physical location, allowing a streaming service to tell where a viewer is located. (For a demonstration of how an IP address can expose your physical location, visit this website. I’ll wait. Oh, you’re back. Slightly scary, right?)
This means NBCUniversal can tell that you’re trying to view Brooklyn Nine-Nine from outside the United States. The network can then set their streaming servers to reject any connections from viewers not located inside the U.S.
How Can I Watch Blocked U.S. TV Overseas?
If you’re looking to access entertainment from a U.S. television provider, you’ll need to acquire an IP address from inside the United States. This will make it appear as if you are inside U.S. borders.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) has the ability to assign you a new, temporary U.S. IP address. It does this by connecting you to a VPN server located inside the U.S. This hides your actual IP address, making it look as if the VPN server’s IP address is yours.
Not only can this IP address-“spoofing” ability open access to American television streams, it can also open the door to streaming content, gaming servers and other services from other countries.
Plus, a VPN encrypts your internet connection, preventing anyone – the government, your ISP or a hacker – from monitoring your online activities.
Which VPN Is Best for Streaming U.S. TV Abroad?
You’ll find there are a large number of VPN providers available, and some of them do an admirable job of unblocking U.S. television streams.
However, only one VPN provider does an all-around top-notch job of protecting your internet connection, while simultaneously opening the door to American TV.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN available to enable bingeing sessions of your favorite U.S. television shows. The VPN provider has servers located in 94 countries, with plenty of servers located inside the United States.
ExpressVPN’s connection speeds are well up to handling the high-definition streams that U.S. network streaming services provide, and they’re well-positioned to handle the increased bandwidth that will be required when U.S. streamers make the transition to 4K content.
ExpressVPN offers some of the best security and privacy protections in the VPN business. It uses the same encryption methods as the U.S. military to prevent monitoring of your online antics. It also follows a strict no-logs policy, so there will be no record of your online travels.
Here’s my review of the service’s features.
1. Connection Speed
In today’s always-connected world, connection speed is one of the most important factors to consider when shopping for a VPN provider. But, when it comes to a VPN for viewing streaming content, it gains even more importance.
Today’s streaming content is delivered in 1080p HD and 4K HDR formats, which require a reliable connection that provides fast speeds. Otherwise, you’ll experience long buffering sessions, and your content might not stream smoothly.
ExpressVPN provides fast connection speeds that are well up to the requirements of today’s streaming content. Depending on the speed of your ISP-provided connection, HD content will start playing almost immediately, and you’ll never need to deal with stuttering and pixelated video playback.
2. Multi-Platform Support
The days of streaming only on your computer are (thankfully) long gone.
You’ll find that most streaming services are available on multiple devices. Netflix alone is available not only on computers, but also mobile devices, smart TVs, streaming boxes, game consoles and even a few internet-connected bathroom mirrors.
That’s what makes ExpressVPN’s comprehensive multi-platform support so important.
ExpressVPN offers native, easy-to-use apps for the iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Amazon Fire TV and Kindle Fire device platforms. If you prefer to binge inside your favorite browser, extensions are available for the Safari, Chrome and Firefox platforms.
Users of set-top boxes like the Apple TV or Roku boxes, or a smart TV, or gaming consoles like the PS4 or Xbox One, you can take advantage of the provider’s MediaStreamer DNS service, which offers the same type of barrier-busting access as their full VPN service. (MediaStreamer doesn’t encrypt your connection, though, so keep that in mind.)
ExpressVPN allows up to 3 simultaneous connections per username. If that isn’t sufficient, you can use the provider’s comprehensive router compatibility to protect all of your internet-connected devices via a single access point.
3. Customer Support
While I wish all of my readers a safe and trouble-free journey on the information superhighway, there may be a time when you’ll need to contact the VPN equivalent of the AAA Motor Club, ExpressVPN’s customer support department.
ExpressVPN provides excellent customer support, thanks to 24/7 live support chat, a trouble ticket tracking system, handy troubleshooting guides and a searchable support library.
4. Global Server Coverage
When it comes to accessing streaming television content from the United States, the most important part of any VPN provider’s global server coverage is to make sure they have servers located inside the U.S. ExpressVPN definitely has that covered.
However, you’ll soon find that a VPN isn’t a one-trick pony. It can provide access to blocked content located around the globe, making global server coverage even more important.
ExpressVPN has the world covered in VPN servers, with 3,000+ servers, in 160 locations, in 94 countries around the globe. That opens up all sorts of entertaining possibilities.
ExpressVPN is admittedly a bit more expensive than some other VPN services. However, when you consider the top-notch all-around service you receive from the provider, you’ll realize that you’ll receive a great return on your investment.
A 30-day money-back guarantee means there’s no risk in giving ExpressVPN a try.
If you’re currently touring the world, but are jonesing for a bit of home cooking TV-wise, ExpressVPN is your best bet for reliable access to your favorite television content back home in the states.
The provider delivers powerful content-unblocking power, while delivering plenty of speed to quickly and smoothly stream your favorite American shows.
For more information or to give ExpressVPN a try, visit the ExpressVPN website.