PBS (also known as Public Broadcasting Service) has become a hub for engaging, educational programming as well as period dramas and other TV classics. However, the non-profit distributor is only available in America – meaning anyone living outside the States won't be able to access the site.
But don't despair! With a VPN for PBS, you'll be able to tune into everything the channel has to offer – whether it's thought-provoking science programming, or rustic television serials, and it won't matter where you are in the world.
Keep reading to find out the best PBS VPN services and for some top tips on how to unblock PBS from anywhere in the world.
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What are the best VPNs for PBS?
We've put together a list of the five best PBS VPNs. Later in the article, we'll get into the real nitty-gritty of each provider, so keep reading, and check out our picks in the table below.
Best 5 VPNS for PBS – looking in detail
We look at the best VPNs for PBS in more detail below, so keep reading, and check out our detailed VPN review pages for more information.
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Why do you need a VPN for PBS?
Licensing agreements mean that PBS is only allowed to broadcast content in the United States – allowing viewers from elsewhere to watch its shows would violate these restrictions, and so PBS takes action in the form of geo-restrictions to prevent folks from outside of the country from tuning in.
PBS uses your IP address to determine where you are in the world. Every internet-enabled device has an IP address, and it can reveal some pertinent information to the websites you visit, namely your rough geographical location. So, if your IP address places you in the UK or elsewhere outside of the United States, PBS will block your access to the site.
These blocks obviously cause a lot of problems. Fortunately, a VPN is a quick, simple, and cost-effective way of bypassing restrictions.
When you connect to a VPN server, it provides you with a new IP address based in that location. The sites you visit won't be able to read your original IP address, and will instead read the one assigned to you by your VPN, and assume you're in the same place as your server, physically. This is known as "location spoofing" – and you'll simply need to connect to a U.S. VPN server to check out PBS' content.
But a VPN can do much more than unblock streaming services. We live in a golden age of digital technology – but one that's also riddled with privacy threats. Third-party hackers can attempt to read your data via unsecure public hotspots, and your government and ISP keep a close watch on your online activity, silently. A VPN encrypts all of your incoming and outgoing traffic, however. Nobody will be able to read it, nobody will know what you're doing online, and you'll be able to access the internet privately.
What to look for in a PBS VPN
Any of the VPNs we've mentioned in this article would be a stellar pick for accessing PBS and streaming content in HD. However, if you want to do your own research, there are some important factors to keep in mind when deciding on a VPN. We've picked out some of the most important ones below:
- American servers – in order to access PBS, a VPN must have at least one location in the United States, though a selection of cities would be a bonus.
- Unblocking power – if you're a big streamer, you might want to check if your prospective VPN can unblock any other popular services, like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, or Prime Video.
- No-logs policy – a VPN is, first and foremost, a security tool, and a zero-logs VPN policy goes a long way to prove that the service takes your privacy seriously, and doesn't keep tabs on your activity whilst connected to a server.
- Speed – a vital consideration when streaming is concerned, and you'll want a service with unlimited bandwidth and fast VPN servers to support box-set binges.
- Customer support – you might not need the help, but it'll be a weight off your shoulders if you know there's an expert team available to address any concerns at the click of a button.
- Devices – nowadays we access the web on more than just our PCs and laptops, so keep an eye out for VPNs compatible with devices you might like to stream on, too, and how many simultaneous connections are offered.
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But wait – there's more!
As previously mentioned, this is only a snapshot of what a truly great VPN could potentially do for you. The best way to see for yourself is by making use of a provider's money-back guarantee. That way, you can trial the service without limitations, and rest assured that you'll get a full refund if it's not to your liking. Alternatively, head on over to our VPN Guide for Beginners if you'd like to learn more about a VPN's capabilities.
How to install a VPN for PBS
Regardless of whether you're unfamiliar with the tech or have been using VPNs for years, it's remarkably easy to get one installed and ready to use, and we'll walk through the process in the steps below.
- First of all, you'll need to decide which VPN you're going to use. Once you have, subscribe!
- Download and install the VPN software via the provider's site – and be sure that you're downloading the right version for the device you're using.
- Log in to the VPN client when prompted, and you'll be asked to connect to a server, so pick one in the U.S. and hit that connect button.
- Once you're connected, visit the PBS website and you're all set! You'll be able to browse through a multitude of documentaries, period dramas, and much more – even if you're not currently in America.
What's on PBS?
PBS is the home of educational content in America, being well-produced and easily digested, and the site is stuffed full of content! The educational shows cover all sorts of genres, and at any time you'll be able to check out documentaries and programming on: world history, science, crime, music, nature, and behind-the-scenes footage from various media productions.
And that's not all! PBS also hosts a buffet of fictional shows and movies, ranging from period dramas to war-time epics, and here are just a few morsels you can check out:
- Churchill's Secret
- Les Misérables
- Little Women
- Mr. Selfridge
- Downton Abbey
It can be frustrating to visit the PBS site and be greeted with an error message – especially when so much engaging content should only be a click away! A VPN can bypass these geo-restrictions in short order, and provide access to PBS' educational programming and other shows without any fuss. You'll simply need to decide on a provider!
So, if you need help making your choice, here's a quick reminder of the VPNs we'd recommend:
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Can I use a free VPN?" answer="Probably not. <a href='/vpn/comparison/free-vpn-services'>Free VPN</a> services are often offered by larger providers as a means to tempt you into purchasing a full subscription – but expect certain limitations if you go with one. It's not unusual to experience reduced bandwidth, a smaller selection of servers, and a tiny monthly data allowance. This is hardly ideal for streaming, and free VPNs often struggle to access streaming sites entirely. Of course, there are also free services that are completely dodgy, and forgo a subscription model in order to collect and sell your data, instead. All in all, we'd recommend sticking to our top picks." /]]
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Are VPNs legal?" answer="Absolutely! VPNs are used all over the world by individuals wanting to secure their online privacy and by remote workers who need to access company infrastructures from outside the office. The things you do whilst connected to a VPN server can be illegal, however. For example, downloading copyright content is still going to be a crime whether you're using a VPN or not. Head over to our are <a href='/guides/are-vpns-legal'>VPNs legal</a> page for a more in-depth discussion on this topic." /]]
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Will a VPN increase my speed?" answer="It won't, no. You'll actually experience a loss of speed when you connect to a VPN server, seeing as it needs to encrypt all of your traffic (thus making your data travel further), but this loss should only ever be minimal, and barely noticeable." /]]
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Can I use a VPN on my mobile?" answer="Of course! The VPNs we've highlighted are all compatible with iPhone and Android devices, and have user-friendly apps you can download in a few taps, available via the App Store or Play Store. Once you've installed the VPN on your phone, you can connect to a server in the US – just as you would with a PC or laptop – and stream PBS content without pesky geo-restrictions getting in the way. Check out our <a href='/vpn/comparison/android-vpns'>Android VPN</a> or <a href='/vpn/comparison/best-iphone-vpns'>iOS VPN</a> pages for more information." /]]