With content delivery services that offer access to your favourite TV programmes from your home country around the world, living abroad has never been easier.
Making a good life for yourself abroad sometimes all comes down to the little things. When you live in another country, especially one with a different language, watching TV from home can be as comforting as your grandma’s Sunday roast. But no matter if you’re looking for cheesy American sitcoms, French dramas or Indian spiritual shows, you can now bring your favourite TV programmes and movies from home along with you. With the expansion of international streaming services, cloud computing, and on-demand programmes, you can have it all: your home country’s TV playable in your adopted country.
ExpressVPN is a secure service that allows you to access any website you like, from anywhere in the world – simply by hiding your IP address. Not only is it the perfect work-around to geo-blocking, it also helps protect your privacy and lets you browse the web anonymously.
English-language streaming services from the US
For now, many U.S.-based streaming services remain available only within the U.S., including Hulu, DirecTV, YouTube TV and Philo. This continues to be a sore spot for many American expats, but never fear: there are still plenty of good options for getting your fix of American TV.
Netflix has established itself as one of the global heavy-hitters of streaming video. With a monthly membership fee, you have unlimited watching access to their library of movies and TV shows. It’s available in over 190 countries worldwide, though the selection varies based on your location.
Amazon Prime Video is a membership-based service available in over 200 countries and territories. You can even watch it while traveling to other countries, though your selection of movies and TV shows may be different based on your location. Even better: though Amazon Original Series are in English, they offer French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish subtitled and dubbed versions.
Prime Video is automatically available at no additional cost to Amazon Prime members in Belgium, France and Spain, so if you’re already subscribed, start taking advantage right away!
As for HBO, it is available directly in Spain and in the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland) with an EU-based selection of series and movies. HBO content is, however, offered in the Netherlands through Dutch cable company Ziggo.
English-language streaming services from the UK
If you’re not too picky about picture and sound quality, you can watch live UK TV from anywhere in the world in your web browser with FilmOn TV. It will give you access to 26 different free-to-air channels, including BBC One, BBC Two, BBC News and CBBC, ITV1, Channel 4, E4 and Channel 5, among others.
WatchBritishTV fills the FilmOn TV gaps with live streams of the main channels, including Film4 and Dave. They also air on-demand streams of shows about six hours after broadcast, but the legality of these streams is dodgy.
If you keep a residence in the UK or have a generous family member still based in Britain, you can also get around the BBC and Sky TV’s licences, which would otherwise prevent you from streaming your favourite shows from outside of the country. You’ll simply have to download the BBC iPlayer or register your device with Sky Go before you leave.
Sky TV launched in Spain at the end of 2017, with U.S. network and cable shows including The Walking Dead, The Big Bang Theory and Grey’s Anatomy, and hundreds of films on demand. The service is also available in Germany, where you can indulge your Game of Thrones addiction.
Streaming services from EU countries
From 1 April 2018, the “portability regulation” is now active in the EU, allowing access to your streaming services within the EU member states, so there’ll be no more of those annoying “Sorry, that content is not available from your location” nonsense when travelling from one EU country to another. The rule mandates that content delivery will “use their subscribers’ details to validate their home country, and let them access all the usual content and services available in that location all around the Union.” It’s of course unclear what’s going to happen post-Brexit, but for now, it’s some welcome news for your intra-European moving around.
Watch Dutch TV anywhere in the world
You can now watch Dutch TV anywhere in the world with the new service Newon TV. For less than €5 a month, you get basic access including NPO and local broadcasters, which you can watch on three devices. You can even test it for free on their website before subscribing. The “Plus” package, available from April 2017, includes even more channels such as RTL4, RTL5, BBC One and Two, CNN, National Geographic, MTV, Comedy Central, Veronica and more.
Even if you’re not Dutch, keep your eye on Newon TV: after Dutch TV, they plan on expanding their TV offering to other countries to satisfy expats from everywhere.
Watch French TV abroad
PlayTV.fr offers live streaming and replays of many of your favourite channels and programmes. Several TV channels also offer direct live streams of their programming, including BFMTV, France 24, TV5Monde, and Arte.
You can also access replays of many of the main French TV channels with a simple subscription to France TV(TF1, France 2, France 3), M6, Gulli (when a hankering for Power Rangers hits hard), and, when worse comes to worst and you really must hear some French, LCP (La Chaine Parlementaire, which airs the activity from the National Assembly and Senate.)
Please note that some of these may not work from foreign countries without a VPN, as the portability regulations are still quite whimsical and geo-blocking is still the norm.
Watch Indian and Asian TV abroad
Sky TV in the UK includes more than 45 channels of Indian and Asian TV in its subscription. There’s Hindi language crime and horror shows on &TV, comedy, drama and reality shows such as Dance India Dance on Zee TV, and news and events in India on the News 18 India channel.
For even more selection, there’s the online provider YuppTV with a wide range of channels including news, entertainment, spiritual, business and life. They offer live TV channels, catch-up TV, TV shows, and unlimited on-demand movies. They boast usage of the platform through six screens, namely connected TVs, internet STBs, smart Blu-ray players, PCs, smartphones and tablets.
Watch Chinese television abroad
Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV offers programming in Mandarin and Cantonese, while China Central Television (CCTV) is the Chinese state broadcaster, offering live streams of its news, sports and kids programmes.
Watch Indonesian TV abroad
Vidio offers live streaming TV channels from Indonesia, including sports, entertainment, news, and music.
Watch Spanish-language television abroad
There are huge amounts of Spanish programmes online, due to the diversity of countries that speak Spanish: from Spain to Cuba and Latin America, to South America and even the United States.
There’s RTVA and DKISS in Spain, Canal 44 and TVMÁS in Mexico, Telesur in Cuba, Globovision in Venezuela – the list goes on, and includes the Spanish-language BBC. See more in this extensive list of Spanish TV.
Paid international TV services
Finally, there are online services offering high-quality live TV for expats around the world, accessible on their PCs, televisions or smartphones. They have developed their own technology and struck agreements regarding licensing to bypass geo-blocking.
For example, after creating a system that works with Dutch TV, Newon TV is planning on spreading its TV love to other European broadcasts. MyTVabroad offers the opportunity to watch television programmes from the UK, the US, France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Albania and even Germany (which is subject to some of the most stringent licensing rules around.)
All in all, it’s becoming increasingly easy to bring the news and entertainment from your homeland with you, at least digitally. Whether you opt for free streaming services directly from media websites or shared platforms such as YouTube or subscription-based streaming services such as Newon TV or Sky, many local shows are available globally, and in many cases on-demand.