How to Watch HBO in the UK
Updated: November 10, 2016
- First step is to setup a VPN account
- Next, install the VPN software onto the device(s) you want to watch HBO in the UK on
- Then open the VPN software and connect to a US-based server
- Go to HBO and sign into your existing account or signup if you have not already
- Enjoy HBO in the UK
How to watch HBO in the UK in more detail:
If you are anything like me then you have been addicted to HBO shows over the past few years. The US cable giant has spawned some of the very best TV in recent times, arguably ever, including such shows as The Soprano’s, Game of Thrones, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Sex and the City, Deadwood, and Entourage.
There is also a strong British connection, with shows such as Veep, penned by British satirist Armando Iannucci, and Last Week Tonight, hosted by British Comedian John Oliver.
Despite this, as I recently discovered when moving to London from New York, you cannot watch HBO in the UK. Not even the online catch-up services HBO-GO and HBO-Now. I was gutted by this, and not being the patient type, willing to wait for weeks or months for shows to come on British TV (hey, I use Twitter I'm going to know whats happened!) I did some hunting to find out how I could watch HBO here.
As it turned out, the solution was much more straight-forward than I could have dared hope.
Why is HBO not Available in the UK?
HBO is a channel only available to people located in the USA. The programmes that it shows are subjects to copyright and distribution agreements in other countries around the world, meaning that HBO is not allowed to make them available anywhere else.
In order not to breach these agreements, HBO is obliged to restrict access to its content to the geographic regions for which it holds the broadcast licenses. And with the overwhelming majority of their shows, this means the USA, and the USA alone.
They therefore use a technology known as geo-blocking to stop users from outside the US watching their programming.
How is HBO Blocking Access in the UK?
When you try to use a service like HBO-Now, it will check you IP Address to see where in the world you are located. Your IP Address is a unique code which tells the sites you visit a lot of information about you, including where you are located.
If your IP address indicates that you are located anywhere other than the USA, you will receive an error message telling you you must reside within one of the fifty states of the USA to access the content.
The only way to avoid this geo-blocking, is to have an IP Address which is located within the USA. Fortunately, it turns out that this is far easier do than it might at first appear.
And the way to change your IP Address is to use a VPN. As I noted at the beginning, whilst there are lots of VPN out there, I have always found ExpressVPN to be the best on the market, so I will now explain how you can use ExpressVPN to watch HBO in the UK.
How to Use a VPN to Watch HBO in the UK
Step 1: Sign up for VPN
The first thing to do is to visit the ExpressVPN website and sign up for their service. You can do this by clicking the link below. Once there, you will need to select the subscription package which best suits your needs, and follow their simple payment process.
The process couldn't be easier to use and should only take you a few minutes to complete. There is also the option of trying out their service completely free for 30-days to make sure you are happy with it.
To help you through the process, I have included some screenshots below of when I signed up to help you.
Once you have gone through this process, you will be invited to download and install ExpressVPN.
Step 2: Download & Install VPN
After completing the payment process, you will be invited to download and install the ExpressVPN software. ExpressVPN can be used on a wide variety of platforms, but you need to be sure to download the right one. Most users will have no problem working out which platform they are on, but if you are not sure, you should be able to find out relatively quickly by looking in the settings folders on your device.
So to give you an example, I use a Windows laptop, so I clicked on the Windows link above which then automatically downloaded ExpressVPN onto my machine. Once the download was complete I followed the simple installation instructions and before I knew it ExpressVPN was ready to roll.
It also gave me the options I had available for additional downloads, and I chose to install it onto my iPhone as well by following the iOS link.
Step 3: Connect to US-based Server on VPN
Once your installation has completed, you will be presented with a screen which looks something like the one I have attached below. Because HBO is only available to users with a US IP Address, you will want to connect to a server located within the USA.
Once you have selected your server, click on the connect option and wait a few moments until ExpressVPN tells you it is connected. Once it does, you are all set. Every site you visit will be under the impression that you are located in the US, including HBO, so you are all set to sign up to their service.
Step 4: Setup an HBO Account
To watch HBO online, you will need to subscribe to one of their streaming services. Currently they have two options; HBO-GO and HBO-Now. Of these, HBO-Go requires users to have a US Cable contract, so unless you are only out of the US temporarily, HBO-Now is going to be your best bet.
Once you are connected to a US server, you can visit the HBO-Now website and sign up to their service, which is again a straight-forward process, although you will have to be able to pay for the service in US dollars (Paypal is a good option to use here) and you might also need to find a US postal address to use.
The whole process should again take no more than a few minutes and needless to say you will be rewarded with many hours of top drawer televised entertainment.
So there you have it. A simple, affordable, and legal way to watch HBO programmes in the UK, exactly as you can in the USA. Since I have been in London I have been able to follow Game of Thrones, just like I did in the US, and chat to my friends back home about it just like old times.
ExpressVPN has been a life-saver to me in the UK, and I have also recommended it to several British friends, who are just as keen to see these programs as I am.
If you are not convinced ExpressVPN is the right service for you, there are of course plenty of other providers out there. We have reviewed many and above you will find our pick of the Top 5 VPN's for watching HBO in the UK. Happy viewing.