How to watch the BBC abroad

Updated April 17, 2017

Expatriates living overseas usually want to watch television in their own language in preference to the local stations. In some regions with large numbers of British, accessing the basic British channels, including BBC, is relatively easy via satellite dishes, but in areas with smaller numbers of English speakers, expats may use computer access if satellite is not available.

Buy a BBC Freesat receiver or Sky digibox in the UK, or from suppliers abroad. If you live in an apartment block, check if it has a central satellite dish supplying British channels. Connect the digibox to the satellite socket in the apartment to receive the free channels, which include all the BBC channels. If you wish to receive more channels, purchase a Sky card in the UK, or via a local supplier. If you live in a villa or apartment block without a central satellite dish, you will need to install a dish. Some apartment blocks don't allow dishes in certain positions, so check with the community before buying a dish.

Catch up with BBC programmes you have missed via the BBC iPlayer on your computer. For some time, the only way to do this was by illegally using a proxy server. Connect to the Onspeed service. The primary function of this service is speeding up Internet connections, but one of its byproducts is the ability to watch BBC iPlayer legally when abroad. This is because Onspeed operates via UK servers. The annual cost of the service is £24.99 as of August 2011.

Take out a subscription to a UK-based Virtual Private Network (VPN) Internet connection. Most services support both Windows and Mac operating systems. Some, such as My Expat Network, also supports iPad, iPhone and Android mobile connections. VPN services are particularly useful in countries where government agencies monitor Internet use and restrict access to some websites. A VPN service is easy to install and guarantees access to UK television as well as all the websites anyone in the UK has access to. The subscription costs £5 a month as of August 2011.

Use a free service such as MyEasyTV. This provides a wide range of TV channels from various countries that you can watch for free on your computer. These are all publicly available free online TV streams and perfectly legal to use. As of August 2011, the site only has access to BBC news channels.

Connect your computer to your television if you prefer to watch your favourite BBC programmes more comfortably. You have the option to either buy a cable connection kit from UK suppliers, or from local suppliers. Talk to an expert to ensure you get the correct cables for your particular TV and computer.


Video streaming may slow down in some regions at peak times. If you avoid these times, your programmes should stream at the required speed.

Things You'll Need

  • BBC Freesat receiver or Sky digibox
  • Computer
  • ADSL connection
  • Computer to TV connection cables
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About the Author

Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.