How to watch SBS and ABC iView outside of Australia

By | August 28, 2015

Without a doubt SBS On Demand and ABC iView are two of Australia’s most popular online TV streaming services and with over 6 million people tuning into SBS alone each week it isn’t hard to see why.

As of 2013 83% of the Australian population were using the internet and a large portion of these make use of SBS On Demand and ABC iView.

Australians are big travellers to locations such as Asia, the UK and elsewhere around the globe and because of this many Aussies tend to try and tune into SBS or ABC online while away from home. If you’re one of them then you’ll know how it feels to be met with a big fat block message.

SBS Blocked

SBS block message.

If you’ve been stopped by the above SBS message then I’m sure you were disappointed and the story is the same with ABC iView who stop you with a message stating “Due to program licensing agreements, programs on ABC iview are available to play in Australia only.”

None of this is much good if you’re an expat or travelling outside of Australia and want to keep up with TV from back home. Even if you’ve never set foot in Australia there are a range of good shows on both sites that are unavailable to you.

Lucky for you there is a completely legal and easy way to access both SBS On Demand and ABC iView from anywhere in the world. So if you’re interested in watching Australian TV keep reading as I’m about to show you how.

Why am I blocked outside Australia

When you head over to either SBS On Demand or ABC iView the website checks your internet connection. If you’re in Australia it plays you the show you want to watch but if you’re outside then it hits you with the block message.

Your internet connection via what is known as your IP Address is what gives away your location. You are assigned a unique IP Address at the time of your connection and it’s what makes the internet work, it is basically how everything knows where to go and who requested it. On the other hand, it basically shouts from the rooftops where you physically are.

With a simple service called a VPN you can alter this IP Address to give the appearance you’re in another country and best of all, VPN services are totally legal and according to Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for Communications “The Copyright Act does not make it illegal to use a VPN to access overseas content.”

Australia Copyright Law

Malcolm Turnbull

So now you know what you need, I’m going to show you how to get and use a VPN.

Where can I get a VPN and how do I use it?

There are plenty of VPN providers these days and most cost about Aus$7-$13 per month but can be cheaper if you take a longer subscription. There are two important factors to consider for watching SBS On Demand, ABC iView and any other Australian TV outside of Australia.

Firstly the VPN provider must offer an Australian “Server”. This is basically the connection point you connect to and assume the location identity of. The second is it must be fast. Streaming video requires good speeds and the further away from Australia you are physically the more that is critical.

Three VPN providers which I do recommend due to their speed and that offer Australian servers are as follows. Just click any of their names below to visit the site or press the big red button to visit IPVanish, my most recommended provider.

  1. IPVanish
  2. StrongVPN
  3. ExpressVPN

Once you’ve signed up to one of the VPN providers above you’ll be given instructions on how to download the VPN software or app.

You can download apps for Windows, Mac, iOS or Android.

Using Windows or Mac:

All you need to do is download, install and run their software. Once run select the Australian server option and connect. As an example, I used IPVanish. Once installed I simply selected Australia and then pressed Connect.

IPVanish Australia

Once connected you can visit SBS On Demand, ABC iView or any other Australian online streaming service and you’ll no longer be blocked by a message telling you that it isn’t available outside Australia.

Using Android or iOS:

The process for mobile devices is slightly different and all depends if you’ve already got the SBS On Demand or ABC iView app already installed before you left Australia. If you have then the process is simple, just download the VPN provider app, connect to Australia and then launch the app of either SBS or ABC. You can watch without any problems.

If you haven’t already got the app then the process is a bit more difficult and requires you to download the SBS or ABC streaming app first off via a third party site, a good place to start is this guide for Android.

Still not convinced?

If you’re still thinking it’s going to be extremely complicated then watch my example video in which I use IPVanish to watch SBS in the UK on a Windows PC.

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • Kathleen Johansson

    It’s very good to know that Australia doesn’t see what you’re doing as illegal, but could it potentially be illegal in the country you’re trying to do it from? I don’t know what the rules are in the UK – but surely this is not an entirely above board everywhere? Just curious. I’m in Sweden and have avoided using a VPN because I’ve assumed that it’s not entirely legit. But maybe I’m wrong! Yay if I am!

    • WatchTVAbroad

      I’m certainly not a lawyer for every country in the world so I can’t give you a guaranteed answer.

      However. Circumventing region restrictions as far as common knowledge goes is not illegal anywhere. At best you will be breaking the terms & conditions of the website you’re access which could result in the suspension of your account at that site, if you have one – this is extremely unlikely because it is almost impossible to prove you’re using a VPN.

      VPN services are 100% legal in most countries, especially, NA, Europe, Australia etc.

      Like anything though, what you use it for may change that legality. A knife is legal unless you’re carrying it for harmful purposes.