Even though streaming services are cheaper than traditional pay-TV subscriptions, when you add them all up, things can get costly. Luckily, there are lots of totally free streaming services these days – where you can watch TV programmes, films and documentaries without paying (but usually with adverts).
- Note: This post was written in collaboration with NordVPN.
The catch? Many of these free streaming services, like Xumo, Vudu, Sling TV and others, are only available in the US. However, there IS a way to watch them all in the UK.
With a top VPN service like NordVPN, you can bypass those geoblocks, and watch some of the free American streaming services wherever you are in the world.
In this guide, I’m going to explain how to do it, and list some of the best free streaming services available today.
Update: NordVPN’s Special Deal Is NOW LIVE
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So if you were thinking about subscribing, so you could watch US streaming services – this might be the best time.
Table of Contents
What Is A VPN?
Let’s start with a quick explanation of what a VPN does, and why you need it to bypass geoblocks.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. In very simple terms, a VPN lets you create a secure connection between your device (Desktop computer / phone / tablet / etc) and a far-away computer.
Then, you use the distant computer (or Network) to browse the internet – so for all intents and purposes, it’s as if you’re sitting next to that other computer – wherever in the world it may be – and using IT for your internet browsing.
This is where the streaming services come in – if you connect to a VPN server in the US, it’s as if you’re actually in the US – so the service won’t block you for being in another country.
The top VPN services (like NordVPN) also safeguard your privacy – so websites won’t be able to track your browsing. When you’re browsing the internet without a VPN, websites can save your IP, which they can then use to potentially get information about you – such as where you are in the world.
Plus, as long as your IP stays the same, they can theoretically track you across the internet. Furthermore, even though an IP address is anonymous, your Internet Service Provider (Virgin Media/Sky/BT/etc’) can make the connection between your IP and you – and in essence, see ALL your browsing history (even if you use your browser’s ‘Anonymous Browsing’ mode).
There are plenty of VPN services available, but you’ve surely heard of NordVPN – and for good reason.
They have more than 5,000 servers in more than 60 countries, so you get top performance and speed wherever in the world your streaming service is located – the US or otherwise.
Plus, they have no bandwidth or data limits (streaming video can consume a lot of data), and their servers are FAST, so you’re unlikely to run into buffering issues, even if you stream 4K videos.
And finally, while many streaming services try to block VPNs, NordVPN always make sure they stay ahead of the curve, doing what it takes to unblock those blocks.
And, yes – their pricing is very affordable, especially if you take the two-years plan.
How To Use NordVPN To Watch Free US Streaming Sites
Many of the US streaming sites, both free and paid, block users who are not currently in the US, due to licensing issues. But whether you’re an ex-pat looking for your old favourites, or just want to have more stuff to watch – a VPN can help.
The first order of business, of course, is to subscribe to NordVPN. Then, you need to install their app on the device you plan to stream on.
NordVPN is available on almost every device in existence – there are Windows and Mac apps, Android and iPhone apps, and – if you want to watch on your TV – there’s even an Amazon Fire TV NordVPN app.
Keep in mind, however, that if you want to install US-Only apps on a Fire TV stick, such as Tubi or Vudu, you would need to change your Amazon account’s location – which can be a bit of a hassle (even though you can always change it back).
So the easiest solution, if you do want to watch on your big-screen TV, is to connect your laptop to the TV with a direct HDMI cable, and run the VPN app and the streaming website from the laptop.
Once you install and activate the app on your chosen device, you’re ready to start watching. Since all the services in this guide are free, there are no credit cards needed – so streaming from them is pretty easy.
You may wonder, of course – why are these services offering premium TV shows and films for free? Well, most of them rely on adverts – so you will have to watch those either before the show starts, or mid-roll (or both). Usually, though, the number of adverts is pretty low.
- Want more US streaming sites? Check out our guide on How To Watch American Netflix in the UK, and our guide on How To Watch Premium US Streaming Services In The UK.
How To Watch Xumo In The UK
What Is It: Xumo is a free (with adverts) American streaming service that’s been around since 2011, and has both live and on-demand content – with 190 channels. Unlike many other free services, it has a lot of premium content.
What Can I Watch On Xumo: There’s a very wide variety of categories within Xumo’s live channels and on-demand content: News, drama, sports, lifestyle and more. Some of the highlights include shows like Fear The Walking Dead, classic comedies like 3rd Rock From the Sun and The Carol Burnett Show, and even some British classics like The Prisoner and Thunderbirds.
It’s a wide mix between shows and films you’ve never heard of, classics, and some newer premium content. And recently, they also started showing a “Movie of The Week” that changes every week – without adverts at all.
How to get Xumo in the UK: The easiest way to watch Xumo is on a web browser – first, you need to activate NordVPN (with a US server), and… that’s about it – Xumo doesn’t even require you to register.
Xumo also has apps for the Amazon Fire TV and mobile phones – but you would need to go to the American app stores of these devices for the apps. Another workaround would be to use the Fire TV’s web browser (with the NordVPN Fire TV app running), and watch directly from the browser.
How To Watch Vudu In The UK
What Is It: Vudu is a combination of a digital video store and a free streaming service, owned by NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia. In the past, it focused on selling digital content – but it has expanded its free streaming service, which now holds a decent collection.
What Can I Watch On Vudu: The on-demand section includes a lot of TV classics – Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, 21 Jump Street, Unsolved Mysteries, and some British gems like Being Human and Doc Martin.
In the movies section you’ll find the usual mix of films you’ve never heard of (but there are hidden gems there), and better-known ones like The Imitation Game, The Founder and more.
How to get Vudu in the UK: Once you activate a US server on NordVPN, the easiest way is to go to Vudu’s web version. You have to sign up for an account before you can watch – but you don’t need a payment card for that – just an e-mail address.
How To Watch IMDb TV (US) In The UK
What Is It: A premium (but free – with adverts) American streaming service owned by Amazon. Earlier this year, a UK version finally launched but the US content library is different from the UK one.
What Can I Watch On IMDb TV (US): Unlike many of the other free streaming services, the content here is definitely more on the premium side, with some really popular films and TV shows (but most are not very new) – Despicable Me 2, Troy and Robin Hood in the films department, and TV shows like Chicago Fire, White Collar and classics like All in the Family and Columbo.
How To Get IMDb TV (US) in the UK: Once you activate NordVPN with a US server, IMDb TV is located inside Amazon’s video website. Remember, though – for the US version, you need to go to Amazon.com, and not the UK one. It’s all free (with adverts) – but you do need to have an Amazon US account (which is also free).
How To Watch Tubi In The UK
What Is It: Tubi is another premium (but free with adverts) American streaming service, that launched back in 2014. The content is a mix of pretty well-known films and TV shows, along with some obscurities, and a selection of live TV channels that include sports and news.
What Can I Watch On Tubi: There are thousands of titles on Tubi’s on-demand section, and while most aren’t particularly new, some were big hits at their time. The film selection includes titles like Pretty Woman, Django Unchained, Planet of the Apes (the 2001 version) and Before I Go To Sleep. The TV library features programmes like Alias, Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Party of Five, and even the classic Fantasy Island.
The advert breaks are sometimes a bit long – but not as long as some of the breaks on UK Freeview channels…
How to get Tubi in the UK: On a browser, you just need to activate NordVPN with an American server, and then Tubi is totally free. You don’t even have to register, but if you do, you get a watchlist and personal recommendations.
As with some of the other services, Tubi has apps for Fire TV and smartphones – but you would need to download those from the American versions of those app stores, which is a bit more complicated.
How To Watch Fawesome.tv In The UK
What Is It: Fawesome.tv isn’t as well known as some of the others, in part because it’s a new US streaming service. But it’s free (with adverts), and includes more than 10,000 on-demand films and TV shows.
What Can I Watch On Fawesome.tv: At the moment the service seems to focus on the classics, both American and British ones. So you can find TV shows like The Saint, Wiseguy and The Greatest American Hero. The film collection is pretty obscure, a lot of cheap horror and action films – but you’re sure to find some hidden gems there.
How to get Fawesome.tv in the UK: The easiest way is to use their Windows app which you can download via the website. Just don’t forget to connect to a NordVPN US server before you run the app.
How To Watch Peacock In The UK
What Is It: Peacock is owned by NBCUniversal, and launched back in 2020. It offers both a premium and a free (with adverts) tier, and while it’s supposed to come to the UK later in 2021 – the content library will be different.
What Can I Watch On Peacock: Most of the content is either from NBC or Universal – but you’ll find a lot of premium titles to watch for free. From the various iterations of Law and Order, to comedies like Modern Family and 30 Rock, as well as current reality competitions like The Voice (US).
In the Movies section you’ll find titles like Harry Potter, Child’s Play, Die Hard, Back To The Future and many other blockbusters.
How to get Peacock in the UK: In the US, the service offers three tiers: Free, Premium and Premium Plus. But a big portion of the content is available on the free tier, and the advert breaks are pretty short.
You do need to register, but you don’t need a payment card for the free tier – so you just need to activate an American NordVPN server. Streaming via a web browser would then be the easiest option.
How To Watch Sling TV In The UK
What Is It: Sling TV used to mainly be a cable-replacement service in the US, with live and on-demand local programming. But they now have a Sling Free section, that gives you “a taste” of Sling content, for free – which means around 5,000 premium titles.
What Can I Watch On Sling TV (Free): You’ll find a wide mix of drama shows, reality programmes and comedies, including American Dad, The Walking Dead, Rick and Morty and many others. And of course – Gordon Ramsay. Yes, he’s everywhere.
How to get Sling TV in the UK: The free tier doesn’t require a registration – you just need to connect to a NordVPN US server, and watch via the browser.