With so many TV shows and films moving to streaming services these days, we’re really spoilt for choice. But even with the impressive selection in the UK, there’s no doubt that in the US, there’s a much larger selection of streaming TV… and there are ways to watch all of it in the UK.
- Note: This post was written in collaboration with NordVPN.
Some streaming services offer a different library of titles in the US, compared to what they offer on our side of the pond. Others, like Hulu, Tubi and more, don’t even exist in the UK, and only work for people who are actually in America.
Thankfully, however, with a top VPN service like NordVPN, you can bypass those geoblocks, and watch some of the US streaming services wherever you are in the world. In this guide, I’m going to explain how to do it, with some of the most popular streaming services out there.
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So if you were thinking about subscribing, so you could get the US streaming services – THIS is the time.
Table of Contents
What Is A VPN?
First, a short explanation on what a VPN actually is, and why you need it to bypass geoblocks.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. In simple terms, a VPN lets you create a secure connection between your device (PC/phone/tablet/etc’) and another computer.
Then, you use THAT 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 – and will show you the US catalogue.
The top VPN services (like NordVPN) also safeguard your privacy – so websites won’t be able to trace and track your browsing. When you’re browsing the internet without a VPN, websites can save your IP, which they can use to 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. Additionally, while 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 ‘Private Browsing’ mode).
There are a lot of VPN services out there these days, but you’ve surely heard of NordVPN – and for good reason.
They have more than 5,000 servers in more than 60 countries, which means you get top performance wherever in the world your streaming service is located – US or otherwise.
Plus, they have no bandwidth or data limits (and streaming video can consume a lot of data), and their servers are FAST, so you won’t run into buffering issues while streaming.
And finally, many streaming services try to block VPNs, but NordVPN always make sure to stay ahead of the curve, doing what it takes to unblock those blocks.
And, to top it all – their pricing is very affordable, especially if you take the two-years plan.
How To Use NordVPN For US Streaming Sites
As mentioned, many of the US streaming sites block users from outside the country, due to licensing issues. But whether you’re an ex-pat looking for your old favourites, or just want to have more to watch – a VPN can help.
The first part is, of course, to subscribe to NordVPN. Then, you need to install their app on the device you plan to stream on.
NordVPN is available on a large number of devices – 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.
Note, however, that if you want to install US-Only apps on the Fire TV, like Hulu and Tubi, you need to change your Amazon account’s location. So the easiest solution 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 need to subscribe to the streaming service you’re interested in. Some, like Tubi, are totally free, and others require a paid subscription.
Do note that some services (Hulu, for example), only work with US credit cards or US PayPal accounts – so you would need to find an alternative payment solution (some buy gift cards, for example).
Each streaming service is a bit different – so we complied a list of some of the leading US services you can stream with NordVPN.
Wait, what about Netflix? Because Netflix is such a popular service, we have a separate, dedicated guide on how to watch American Netflix in the UK.
How To Watch Tubi In The UK
What Is It: Tubi is a free American streaming service (with advert breaks), that launched back in 2014. It has an impressive variety of TV programmes and films, without the need for a subscription.
What Can I Watch On Tubi: Free streaming services often have a mediocre selection, but Tubi is a pleasant surprise: they have thousands of titles, from popular reality TV shows like Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen, Master Chef editions from around the world, new and classic drama and action series like The Fall and Leverage and even blockbuster and award winning films like White House Down, Whiplash, Face/Off and more.
The advert breaks are sometimes a bit long – but they’re not too bad.
How to get Tubi in the UK: On a computer, activating your NordVPN app is pretty much all you need to do – Tubi is totally free, and you don’t even need to register. Though, if you register, you can set a watchlist and get personal recommendations.
They have apps for the Amazon Fire TV as well as for mobile phones – but you would need to go to the respective device’s American stores to get them. Another workaround would be to use the Fire TV’s web broswer (with the NordVPN app running), and watch directly from the browser.
How To Watch Hulu In The UK
What Is It: Hulu is a popular American streaming service, owned by Disney and NBCUniversal.
It’s been around since 2007, focusing on a variety of US TV shows, many of which with the most recent episodes (even a few hours after the episode aired on “regular” television).
In addition, they have a growing slate of original productions.
What Can I Watch On Hulu: Although their library isn’t as big as it used to be, they still offer an impressive variety of programmes:
From popular long-running shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19 and The Good Doctor, to popular reality and competition shows like The Masked Singer (US), Survivor and The Amazing Race, to Hulu originals like Castle Rock, The Act, The Handmaid’s Tale and more.
How to get Hulu in the UK: After you use NordVPN to bypass the geographical block, you will need to use a US-based payment method. Hulu offers a free 30-days trial, and two paid tiers – a “No-Ads” tier for $11.99/mo, and a limited-ads tier for $5.99/mo.
Watching on a desktop computer/laptop is the easiest solution. They have an app for the Fire TV and for mobile phones – but you would need to install it from the American app stores of these devices.
How To Watch HBO / HBO Max In The UK
What Is It: HBO is one of the most recognisable brands in American television, and for good reason – with numerous critically acclaimed shows, from classics like The Sopranos to newer hits like Watchmen – they have amazing content.
This year, HBO was spawned into “HBOMax”, which is an expanded streaming service from WarnerMedia, that includes all the content from HBO, as well as content from other platforms – DC, Universal Pictures, Warner productions, and more.
While technically you can still subscribe to HBO alone, there’s really no point, as HBOMax costs exactly the same as the standalone HBO.
What Can I Watch On HBOMax: Lots of highly-rated new and classic TV programmes and movies – from Game of Thrones to Friends, from Watchmen to Lovecraft Country, Succession and The Wire, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and The Fresh Prince of Bel-air – the library might not be as big as, let’s say, Netflix – but it’s full of juggernauts.
How to get HBO in the UK: Once you remove the geographical block with NordVPN, an HBOMax subscription costs $14.99/month.
How To Watch Peacock In The UK
What Is It: Peacock, one of the newest players (it launched on July 15, 2020) is a streaming service from NBCUniversal, which offers both premium and a totally free (with adverts) tiers.
What Can I Watch On Peacock: For now, most of the content on Peacock is made up of library shows belonging to NBCUniversal: from Law & Order to Parks and Recreation, Saturday Night Live and Suits, as well as classic films like E.T., The Blues Brothers, Shrek and more.
Peacock also has a number of existing and planned original shows, such as Brave New World, Code 404, A.P.Bio and more.
How to get Peacock in the UK: Peacock offers three tiers: Free, Premium and Premium Plus. A big portion of the content is available on the free tier, and you don’t even need a credit card for it (but there are advert breaks).
However, Peacock is geo-blocked, so you would need to use NordVPN to unblock it – at which point you can simply register and start watching.
The Premium tier ($4.99/month) offers a bigger library, and the Premium Plus ($9.99/month) tier offers the same library as Premium – but without adverts.
How To Watch Crackle TV In The UK
What Is It: Crackle is a free (with ad breaks) streaming service which focuses mostly on classics – from movies to TV shows and documentaries – but also has some original programmes.
What Can I Watch On Crackle: Lots of classic American TV shows like 21 Jump Street, 3rd Rock From The Sun, All in the Family, Charlie’s Angels and a lot more. Plus, feature films (most of them a bit obscure) in a variety of genres.
How to get Crackle in the UK: Crackle is available in 21 countries… but not in the UK, unfortunately. Fear not, though – as you can bypass the geo-block with NordVPN, and then watch without even needing to register for an account.
How To Watch The CW In The UK
What Is It: The CW is an over-the-air American network, which also offers a free (with adverts) streaming service on its website, with all of its original shows. It’s geared mostly towards younger viewers, with a lot of fantasy and sci-fi programmes.
What Can I Watch On The CW: Some shows are available in full on The CW’s website, while others only have the most recent episodes.
So, between those two categories, you can find the “Arrowverse” shows (from Arrow to The Flash, Supergirl and more), Supernatural and Riverdale, the reboots of Dynasty and Charmed, and more.
How to get The CW in the UK: The CW’s website (and apps) is totally free-to-watch, with ad-breaks. However, it’s geo-blocked and only available in the US – so you would need to access it with a NordVPN subscription.