If you’re outside the US and have tried watching PBS or PBS Kids without a VPN, chances are you came across the following message:
“We’re sorry, but this video is not available in your region due to rights restrictions”.
This isn’t an uncommon issue when it comes to streaming content abroad. Unfortunately, the same issues can occur with popular streaming services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. Luckily, it’s actually very easy to bypass such restrictions with a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
A VPN allows you to connect to a server in another country (such as the US). In doing so, you’ll be assigned a different IP address, making it appear as though you’re browsing the web from another location. Your internet traffic is then encrypted and routed through the VPN server, allowing you to unblock geo-restricted websites and services such as PBS.
Don’t have time to read the whole article? Don’t worry! Here’s a short summary of what you need to know.
The best VPNs to watch PBS outside the US:
- NordVPN: Our top VPN for watching PBS outside of the US. Has a huge number of US servers. Fast, secure and can be used on up to 6 devices. Live chat support and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
TIP In our testing we found that the cheapest NordVPN plan (Standard) works perfectly for PBS.
- Surfshark: An excellent budget VPN provider. Good speeds and works with PBS and over 30 Netflix libraries. Unlimited simultaneous connections and MultiHop servers.
- ExpressVPN: Fast servers in the US and worldwide. Able to access PBS, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video. 24/7 live chat support, strong security and encryption.
- CyberGhost: Plenty of US-based servers for watching PBS. Connect up to 7 devices. Easy-to-use apps and secure with encryption and a no-logs policy.
- IPVanish: Hundreds of servers in the US. Unlocks PBS, Amazon Prime Video, and more. Unlimited simultaneous connections and strong security.
- PrivateVPN: Fast VPN service that works with PBS, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video. Connect up to 10 devices simultaneously. User-friendly and secure.
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How to watch PBS outside the US with a VPN
If you’re keen to get started and watch PBS outside the US, here’s what you need to do in a few simple steps:
- Sign up with one of the VPN providers in this post. We recommend NordVPN.
- Download the VPN software, making sure to choose the correct version for your device.
- Open the VPN app (or browser extension, if available) and select a server in the US to get an American IP address.
- Choose a PBS or PBS Kids show, which should now be unlocked.
- If content is still blocked, be sure to clear your browser’s cache and cookies. Alternatively, try a different server or get in touch with your VPN’s support.
Best VPNs for watching PBS outside the US
As far as we can tell, PBS doesn’t use any anti-VPN firewalls, which means most VPNs with servers in the US should work with it. However, VPNs vary dramatically in quality. For this reason, we’ve narrowed down the list to VPNs that all meet the following criteria:
- High-speed servers in the US
- Unlocks PBS and other geo-restricted content
- Easy to use with apps for desktop and mobile
- Secure with encryption and a kill switch feature
- A strict no logs policy that protects your privacy
- Customer support available via live chat (preferably 24/7)
Here’s our list of the best VPNs to watch PBS abroad:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is our first choice VPN for watching PBS outside the US. It boasts an impressive 5000+ servers with nearly 2,000 in the United States. Having so many servers to choose from means less server load and better performance. We’ve found NordVPN to be fast, consistent and excellent at unblocking geo-restricted content. Aside from unlocking PBS Video outside the US, NordVPN can also access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.
You can use NordVPN on up to six devices simultaneously. Furthermore, its apps are extremely responsive and easy to use. This is a VPN service that offers fast and efficient customer support, 24/7. In our experience, customer care agents are very knowledgeable. As for security, NordVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch. This plus a no-logs policy and the option to pay in cryptocurrencies makes NordVPN one of the safest VPNs.
You can use NordVPN on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and Amazon Fire TV. Chrome, Firefox, and Edge browser extensions are also available. To use NordVPN with a VPN-compatible router, you’ll need to manually configure the connection.
- Almost 2,000 servers in the US alone
- Servers are fast for high-quality streaming
- Works with PBS as well as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video
- Use it on up to 6 devices simultaneously
- Strict no-logs policy
- Excellent 24/7 live chat support
- Desktop app is a little cumbersome
BEST VPN FOR PBS:NordVPN is our top choice it has a huge number of servers in the US and worldwide. It’s fast and unlocks PBS and Netflix. Live chat support and a no-logs policy. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full NordVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark is an excellent choice for accessing PBS and other streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus from anywhere. It operates over 3,000 servers in 90+ countries globally that provide fast and reliable connectivity regardless of where you’re connecting from. Users who love to stream PBS and other services on multiple devices will benefit from Surfshark’s unlimited device connection limit.
Surfshark uses military-grade encryption to protect your connection from prying eyes, and its double obfuscation features help unblock sites in places with heavy internet censorship. You can also expect protection from both DNS and IPv6 leaks as well as a kill switch. Some paid extras include an antivirus and private browser. Although very beginner-friendly, Surfshark offers 24/7 live chat and email support.
You’ll find Surfshark apps for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire TV. It also provides Chrome and Firefox browser extensions. Surfshark is compatible with select routers but requires manual setup.
- Fast enough for uninterrupted streaming, torrenting, or browsing
- Connect unlimited devices
- Great for accessing PBS and popular streaming sites like Netflix
- Strong security and privacy credentials
- No-logs policy
- Sometimes slow to connect when switching servers
BEST BUDGET VPN FOR PBS:Surfshark is a low-cost provider that delivers a great service. It offers speed, security, and unlimited connections. It’s a fantastic choice for streaming PBS outside of the US and there’s even a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Surfshark review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN is an extremely reliable VPN. Not only does it access PBS outside the US, but it also works with everything from Netflix to Amazon Prime Video. Just as important, it offers fast and consistent servers for stress-free streaming without buffering or lag. ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, and has servers in multiple US cities including New York and Washington.
Aside from offering high-quality performance, ExpressVPN is very secure. It uses 256-bit AES encryption to protect your data and also protects you from DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks. Other key security features include split tunneling and a kill switch. Finally, ExpressVPN keeps no identifying logs, which means you can surf the web anonymously. ExpressVPN provides excellent customer support, available 24/7.
ExpressVPN is available on desktop (Windows, Mac, Linux) and mobile (Android, iOS). You can also find Android TV and Amazon Fire TV apps as well as Chrome, Firefox, and Edge extensions. ExpressVPN even provides custom firmware for quick and easy setup with routers.
- Unlocks PBS, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video
- Servers in 94 countries
- Fast and efficient 24/7 live chat support
- Strong security and privacy features
- Doesn’t keep any identifying logs
- A little more expensive than most VPNs
VERY RELIABLE VPN:ExpressVPN is a super fast VPN with a wide network of servers, many in the US. It works with PBS as well as Netflix. User-friendly apps and strong security. Try it risk-free with the 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost offers a combination of strong performance and security. It has a network of 9,000 servers, over 1,400 of which are in the US. Aside from being able to unlock PBS, CyberGhost works well with US Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Servers were fast in our testing with no noticeable dips in quality. This VPN service offers unlimited bandwidth and traffic and even lets you connect up to seven devices at a time.
From our experience of testing the various CyberGhost apps, we found them to be easy to use. Various settings can be toggled on and off, including an ad-blocker and data compression. Looking to CyberGhost’s security offering, it uses 256-bit AES encryption and provides protection from DNS and IP leaks. There’s also a handy kill switch feature and a strict no-logs policy to protect your privacy.
In terms of apps, CyberGhost is available on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire Stick, and Android TV. You can also download browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. However, manual configuration is required with Linux and routers.
- Large network of servers, particularly in the US
- Unblocks geo-restricted content including PBS
- Simultaneous connections on up to 7 devices
- Apps are easy for beginners to navigate
- Has trouble unblocking some streaming sites
- Advanced users might find a lack of configuration options
STRONG SECURITY:CyberGhost has a large network of servers and works with PBS. Use it on up to 7 devices. Secure with encryption and no logs policy. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
IPVanish is a United States-based VPN service and is therefore well-placed to unlock PBS. It has approximately 2,000 servers, around half of which are located in the USA. These US-based servers are spread across nearly 20 different cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. We’ve found IPVanish to be a fast and reliable service that successfully accesses streaming services such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix US.
A standout feature of IPVanish is ability to connect an unlimited number of devices. This makes IPVanish a great option for families. Aside from easy-to-use apps, 24/7 live chat, and email support, IPVanish has all of the key security features expected of a quality VPN. This includes 256-bit AES encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, a kill switch, and a zero-logs policy.
IPVanish apps are available for the following: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Amazon Fire TV. Manual setup is needed for use with Linux and routers however.
- Roughly a thousand US servers
- Unlocks PBS, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, etc
- Allows unlimited simultaneous connections
- Strong encryption and a no-logs policy
- US-based (the US is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance)
- No browser extensions available
IDEAL FOR FAMILIES:IPVanish has plenty of servers in the US. Watch PBS and connect all of your devices simultaneously. Secured with encryption. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full IPVanish review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN is a VPN service that unlocks most geo-restricted content you’re likely to come across, including PBS. Although it has a smaller network of around 200 servers, these are in over 60 countries, including the US (in 12 cities). Aside from PBS, PrivateVPN allows you to access your home Netflix and Amazon Prime Video libraries while traveling abroad, and we didn’t encounter any performance issues.
You can have up to 10 simultaneous connections via a single PrivateVPN account, allowing you to secure all of your devices. The PrivateVPN apps are really simple to use, though customer support is available should you need it. PrivateVPN states it doesn’t use freelance support reps – only the PrivateVPN developers themselves. We’ve found it to be a secure VPN service with a no-logs policy, 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch.
PrivateVPN offers user-friendly apps for Windows, Android, Mac, iOS, and Amazon Fire TV. Some manual setup is needed for both Linux and routers.
- Fast servers for streaming PBS, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video etc
- Use on up to 10 devices at one time
- Apps are very user-friendly
- No logs policy to protect your data
- Fewer servers than many other paid VPNs
- Live chat support isn’t available 24/7
FAST SERVERS:PrivateVPN has very fast servers for streaming PBS and Netflix. It’s user-friendly and secure with encryption, kill switch, and a no logs policy. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
Methodology: How we select the best VPNs for PBS
Finding the best VPN to access the PBS and PBS Kids from outside the United States might appear simple at first, but due to the geo-restrictions set by the broadcaster, it means not every VPN is capable of unlocking the live TV channel from abroad. To ensure the VPNs on our list are up to the task at hand, we run through a series of tests which you can find below.
- Server coverage: PBS and PBS Kids are channels available to residents of the US. If you want to access the channels from abroad, the VPN you’re using must have a decent number of servers, with servers located in the US. Having locations in various US cities acts as a failsafe. For example, if a server in Chicago doesn’t work with PBS, you could try a New York server instead.
- Unblocking ability: Even if a VPN has servers in the US, that doesn’t mean it’ll automatically unlock PBS. We test VPNs to see if they can evade geo-restrictions set by the broadcaster, trying multiple servers to ensure you’re not tied down to relying on a single server that could be blocked in the future.
- Privacy and security: To ensure you’re not followed around the web and tracked by your ISP, it’s vital that a VPN uses AES 256-bit encryption, and if they have extra privacy tools like DNS leak protection, even better!
- Device support: PBS is available on various devices, like iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS. Selecting a provider that offers apps on all major platforms is beneficial to enjoy the protection of a VPN on these devices.
- Logging policy: Chances are you’ll use your shiny new VPN for more than just accessing PBS. Without a VPN, activities like torrenting are logged by ISPs which could land you into trouble, so we only select VPNs that use a no-logs policy, meaning they don’t keep a record of your online browsing, downloads, or streaming activities.
- Customer support: Everyone runs into problems with software at some point, so it’s advantageous to select a provider with many support options. We choose VPNs that offer 24/7 support like live chat or a ticketing system to give you help when you need it.
- Value: Nobody wants to pay over the top for mediocre service. While these VPN providers vary in features, they offer excellent value with a reputable service. The VPNs on our list each include a 30-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to try the service for a month, and request a refund if you’re not 100% satisfied.
To learn more about how we select the best VPN providers, check out our full VPN testing process.
FAQs about watching PBS outside the US with a VPN
Can I use a free VPN to watch PBS outside the US?
While you can probably use a free VPN to watch PBS outside the US, we strongly advise against it. One of the main reasons is that most free VPNs are too slow for streaming. The high number of users and limited number of servers means you’ll encounter a lot of buffering and lag. Although a free VPN might unblock PBS and PBS Kids, it likely won’t work with other streaming services that use anti-VPN measures, such as Netflix.
Free VPNs are often very limited in terms of features. This is particularly critical when it comes to security. After all, a VPN should not only unblock geo-restricted content but protect your online privacy. Unfortunately, many free VPNs don’t use encryption or offer a kill switch. What’s more, many free VPNs log your data and activity and sell it to the highest bidder. As we’re finding out with the likes of Facebook and Google, free is rarely ever free, particularly when it comes to our online privacy.
What can I watch on PBS?
PBS is known for its high quality content, ranging from period dramas to educational TV shows which are available via its website and via the PBS Video app. Here’s a short list of some of the content you can watch on PBS:
- Downton Abbey
- Finding Your Roots
- Antiques Roadshow
- The Great British Baking Show
- American Experience
- Independent Lens
What is PBS Kids?
PBS Kids is the children’s network. It offers games and activities as well as children’s TV programmes including the following:
- Sesame Street
- The Cat in the Hat
- Clifford the Big Red Dog
- Dinosaur Train
- Sid the Science Kid
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
- Curious George
Is it illegal to access PBS outside of the US?
It’s not illegal to watch PBS outside of the US, though it may go against the terms and conditions set by the broadcaster. VPNs are legal in most countries, so you’re unlikely to get into trouble using one – though its worth checking the rules in your current region.
Is there an app to watch PBS?
The main PBS app allows you to stream thousands of titles from PBS – including full episodes of popular shows like Downtown Abbey, Masterpiece, NOVA and Frontline. You can even access live streams of US local station’s programming.
The PBS app is available for the following:
- Android TV
- Amazon Fire TV
- Apple TV
- Samsung Smart TV