Last week I wrote a blog post about why watching TV and radio can help you learn English. This week I’m talking about overcoming the technical issues. With UK TV a technical issue is that when you are outside the UK you can’t watch UK TV channels (apart from BBC World News) or watch videos on BBC iPlayer on your laptop. It is because when you are outside the UK your laptop has a non-UK IP address. Regarding BBC iPlayer there are also legal restrictions – to watch iPlayer you must be a UK license payer and according to their terms and conditions you need to physically be in the UK to stream or download programmes. Below are some ways for you to watch UK TV Channels and listen to radio shows abroad. Just remember – ensure that this is permitted by the programme-provider and by the laws of your own country.
1. Use A Premium Service e.g. Filmon
You can use some applications or web-sites that allow you to watch UK TV channels. Unfortunately there are only few of them. Until May 2017 the best and the only one I knew was www.filmon.com – a web-service (I used this web-service on my laptop and their Android app on my tablet and mobile phone). I could watch 30+ UK TV channels in SD quality for free and there was a built-in recorder in this service so I was able to watch any show later on. Sadly, as of May 2017 it is not available for free. But if you’re looking for a Premium version, this could be a good option.
2. Use A Free Service e.g. TV Catchup
Now I use another similar service: www.tvcatchup.com on my laptop and the TV Catchup app on my tablet. Unfortunately, the Android app is far from perfect – it often crashes – so I prefer the web-service on my laptop. The only problem you could face while using this service is that if you use any ad-blocker in your browser, every time you go to the site and try to watch any UK channel from its list, the service will inform you that you must switch off your ad-blocker to use the service. You don’t need to turn your ad-blocker off on your laptop completely, just include the service in ad-blocker’s exception list and then it won’t run on this site. Another point to note is that TV Catchup has faced legal action in the past and its unclear how long the service will continue to be around. Keep an eye on their FAQs for further information.
3. Use A VPN
You can also use any VPN-service which allows you to select a proxy-server from the UK. Unfortunately, free VPN-services usually don’t give you this option. I use Windscribe free VPN-service and ad-blocker. Usually they give you 2-10 Gb per month but a couple of months ago I found a promocode and got 60Gb per month for free! You can always keep an eye on their promotions. The advantage of this method is that it gives you access not only to UK TV channels but to many, many other Internet services blocked in your state (for Russia it is Telegram, torrent-web-sits, etc.) or unavailable because of the services policies (such as Netflix). Just make sure that anything you do is of course legal!
4. Use A Radio App
With the UK radio the only technical ‘issue’ is to find a proper and convenient app for your laptop and especially for your tablet and mobile phone. I use www.audials.com, though I can’t say what its pros and cons are. It simply gives me all I need: I get a list of all UK radio stations or only talk radio stations (there are respective filters in this application), I can make a Favourites list, and there is a built-in recorder in this application.
I hope this is helpful for you – stay tuned for my next blog!