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 and testing with numerous VPN providers, I can fully recommend NordVPN as the best VPN for unblocking American TV streams from nearly anywhere in the world.
A 30-day money-back guarantee means you’ll have plenty of time to decide if NordVPN 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 around $3,879 in 2020.)
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.
Plus, a VPN encrypts your internet connection, preventing anyone – the government, your ISP or a hacker – from monitoring your online activities.
Methodology for Assessing a VPN for Streaming U.S. TV
You don’t want to get stuck with a VPN service provider that isn’t capable of unblocking and streaming U.S. TV. That’s why it’s critical to assess a few important factors before choosing a VPN for U.S. TV.
These are the factors that I assessed when deciding upon which VPN to recommend (NordVPN) for streaming U.S. TV:
- Speed: One of the most important factors is connection speed. You don’t want a VPN that will make you wait through long buffering times and force you to stream in low resolution. NordVPN offered some of the fastest connection speeds I’ve ever seen in my most recent connection speed tests.
- Server Network: Obviously, servers in the U.S. are absolutely necessary for streaming U.S. TV shows and movies. But you also want to consider a large server network for the ability it gives you to stream other services in other countries. Plus, it’s good to consider the number of servers that the provider offers, as the more servers the provider offers, the more likely it will be that those servers won’t be overloaded with users.
- Value: I’m sure you want to save as much money as possible when investing in a VPN. No sense in putting down a large sum for a VPN service provider that won’t provide the features and functionality you need. NordVPN asks for a reasonable price, which is commensurate with its offerings.
- Ease of Use: NordVPN offers simple apps, which make it easy and quick to connect and start watching your favorite U.S. TV shows and movies. In addition, the provider offers apps for a large number of platforms, allowing you to stream on your favorite device.
- Security and Privacy: Don’t forget that your digital privacy and security are important, too. You want to be protected when you’re doing anything online, as there are many hazards. NordVPN offers banking-level encryption, an automatic kill switch, DNS/IP leak protection and more. It also never saves logs of your online activities, so you don’t have to worry about anyone requesting access to your data, as there won’t be any record of your online escapades.
- Streaming: Since this article is about streaming U.S. TV, it’s no surprise that you want a VPN that will be capable of unblocking and streaming many different U.S. streaming services. NordVPN is superb at this, easily unblocking Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and more.
Check out more information about my VPN testing methodology.
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.
NordVPN is the best VPN available to enable bingeing sessions of your favorite U.S. television shows. The VPN provider has 5,500+servers located in 59 countries, with nearly 2,000 of those servers located in 15 locations around the United States.
NordVPN’s connection speeds can easily handle 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.
NordVPN also offers some of the best security and privacy protections in the VPN business. It uses the same encryption methods banks do 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.
NordVPN provides some of the fastest connection speeds I’ve seen in recent testing, and they are well up to the requirements of today’s streaming content. Depending on the speed of your ISP-provided connection, HD and 4K 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 NordVPN’s comprehensive multi-platform support so important.
NordVPN offers native, easy-to-use apps for the iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Linux, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV device platforms. If you prefer to binge inside your favorite browser, extensions are available for the Chrome and Firefox platforms. You can set up NordVPN on numerous brands of routers, meaning you can also protect and enhance your video gaming, set-top box, and smart TV viewing experiences.
NordVPN allows up to 6 simultaneous connections per username.
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, NordVPN’s customer support department.
NordVPN provides excellent customer support, thanks to 24/7 live support chat, email support 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. NordVPN 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.
NordVPN has the world covered in VPN servers, with 5,500+ servers in nearly 60 countries around the globe. That opens up all sorts of entertaining possibilities.
With all that NordVPN offers you, you’d be forgiven for expecting the provider to be rather expensive. Well, you would be wrong sir and or ma’am. NordVPN’s pricing is competitive with many lesser providers, and much cheaper than most VPNs that are on an equal service footing.
A 30-day money-back guarantee means there’s no risk in giving NordVPN a try.
US TV Abroad VPN FAQs
How Do I Watch American TV Overseas?
It's easy to watch American TV from overseas. Just follow these steps:
- Subscribe to a reliable VPN. (Like NordVPN.)
- Install the VPN provider's app(s) on your viewing device(s).
- Log in to the VPN provider.
- Select a VPN server located inside the United States.
- Go to your favorite streaming site or app and enjoy the show!
Where Can I Watch US Television?
Most US television networks offer a streaming service. Most of these services offer access to the network's content via a web browser or on apps for most popular device platforms. You will likely need to use a VPN to make it appear as if you are inside US borders, however, as most television streaming services are geo-restricted.
What Are Some International TV Streaming Services?
There are numerous international streaming services that are available for your enjoyment. These include Telemundo, encoreTVB, Euronews, tegesschau, Haiti Connection, NTD Television, and many more.
If you’re currently touring the world, but are jonesing for a bit of home cooking TV-wise, NordVPN 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 NordVPN a try, visit the NordVPN website.
- The Best Way to Watch U.S. TV Online From Abroad
- About U.S. Television
- Why Are International Users Banned From U.S. TV Streams?
- How Is Content Geographically Blocked?
- How Can I Watch Blocked U.S. TV Overseas?
- Methodology for Assessing a VPN for Streaming U.S. TV
- Which VPN Is Best for Streaming U.S. TV Abroad?
- US TV Abroad VPN FAQs
- How Do I Watch American TV Overseas?
- Where Can I Watch US Television?
- What Are Some International TV Streaming Services?