UK TV Streaming Services After Brexit: Major Changes Are Coming

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For the past two years, UK residents travelling within the EU were able to keep watching their local, UK library on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Starting January 1 2020, however, things are going to change – due to Brexit.

Back in 2018, the “Digital Single Market” came into effect: it meant that anyone travelling from one EU country to another EU country, would be able to access the same streaming video library they’re subscribed to at home.

Before these digital portability rules existed, travelling meant your library of content would change to that of the country you were physically in.

woman watching her smartphone on a plane 800

So, for example, when you’re subscribed to Netflix in the UK, and you’re IN the UK, you only see the titles which are available to UK customers.

Netflix’ library is a bit different in every country (which is why many people try to get American Netflix in the UK) – so when you travel, you might lose access to some of the programmes that were available to you in your home country.

But the Digital Single Market meant that when you travelled to France, for example – and loaded up Netflix on your phone – you would STILL see the Netflix UK library, and not the one that French residents get. And the same goes for any other European Economic Area (EEA) country you were visiting.

But with the Brexit deal that’s coming into effect on January 1, the UK is no longer a part of the Digital Single Market – and Cross-border portability of online content, for us, will cease to apply.

According to the government’s guidance, content service providers will no longer be required to make the home-country content available to a UK customer who is temporarily present in any other EEA Member State – but will be able to offer it “on a voluntary basis”.

Ahead of the change, we checked what the customers of some of the major streaming services that operate in the UK can expect from January 1. Here’s the full guide:

Amazon Prime Video After Brexit

Prime Video (see our review) is Amazon’s streaming TV service, which offers a big library of movies and TV programmes, including original productions like The Boys, The Grand Tour, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and more. 

Before Brexit, UK customers who travelled within the EU, were able to access all the content normally available to them when they were in the UK.

After January 1, Amazon tells us that UK Prime Video customers will no longer have access to the full UK catalogue when they travel to EU countries (or anywhere else in the world, for that matter) – including the live Premier League games that air on Prime Video.

Also note that unlike with some other services, travelling Prime Video subscribers don’t get access to the local library of content in the country they’re in. Instead, they can only access Prime Video’s “Watch Abroad” category, which includes Amazon’s global original programmes.

Customers who happen to relocate permanently from the UK to a different country, would need to update their home location on Amazon.

NOW TV After Brexit

NOW TV (see our review) is Sky’s no-contract streaming service. It offers flexible packages (“passes”) of content that can be watched on a variety of streaming devices.

Family watching NOW TV

A notice from NOW TV says that as of December 29, 2020, “roaming has ended” – and customers are no longer entitled to stream NOW TV passes in any EU countries.

So in effect, NOW TV passes can only be watched within the UK from this point onwards.

You can, however, download some NOW TV content to your phone – and watch it offline (within 30 days), even when you’re travelling – but you have to download before you travel.

Netflix After Brexit

Netflix (see our review), the company that was behind much of the streaming TV revolution, has distinctively differing content libraries around the world.

Netflix on a laptop
Photo: Deposit Photos / Kamachi

Netflix’ own in-house Originals are available globally (for the most part), but content they buy from other production companies differs from country to country.

Therefore, starting January 1, you’re likely to see big differences in the content available to you when you travel from the UK to EU countries (or any other country for that matter).

So when you travel to Germany, for example, you will see the content locally available to residents of Germany.

Netflix told us they have no official comment on the upcoming changes at the moment – but we will update accordingly if they have anything to add.

BritBox After Brexit

The UK version of BritBox (see our review) is a streaming subscription service from ITV and the BBC, which brings together British TV programmes from ITV, BBC, Channel 5 and Channel 4.

Britbox

Before Brexit, UK customers were able to keep streaming content from the service when they were travelling to other EU countries.

But starting January 1, with the Cross-border portability rules no longer applying, customers will not be able to watch BritBox anywhere outside the UK.

Disney+ After Brexit

Disney’s streaming TV service (see our review), which launched earlier this year, is similar in most of the countries where it operates – but there are still some differences in the content they offer.

disney plus on phone

According to Disney, if you travel to a country where the Disney+ service operates, you will now only be able to stream “content that is available in that country”, or content you’ve downloaded to your device beforehand.

If you’re in a country that doesn’t have Disney+ yet, you will only be able to watch offline content that you’ve downloaded when you were still in the UK.

Apple TV+ After Brexit

Apple TV+, the streaming service from Apple, is in a comfortable position for Brexit: their entire global catalogue consists of original productions.

Apple TV Plus Logo

Therefore, the content available to Apple TV+ subscribers is the same all over the world – and there shouldn’t be any changes to the service, for UK customers, after Brexit.