Why Brexit Brits can no longer stream in the EU

Smart TV with remote control and coffee

After months of frantic and sometimes strained negotiations and plenty of ‘will-they-won't-they' media speculation, on Christmas Eve Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen finally announced that a UK-EU free trade deal had been agreed.

With the exception of a few hard-liners on the extreme fringes of the leave and remain camps, most people were of the view that this was the best possible outcome from a Brexit issue that has divided the nation ever since the referendum was held back in 2016.

While the UK formally left the EU on 31st January, we have remained fully compliant with EU law and regulation during the agreed transition period. That period runs out on New Year's Eve and the deal means that while there will be far less turmoil than might otherwise have been the case.

Streaming is about to change

But that is not to say that there will be no changes at all. It would be easy to watch the news and think that unless you are a lorry driver or an exporter, Brexit is not going to affect you.

One big change that a lot of people may not be expecting, but which is about to happen relates to streaming.

Back in 2017, the EU passed the EU Portability Regulation. This law required that every paid-for online streaming service was obliged to make its contents available to users across the European Union.

In other words, if you had a Sky Sports subscription, you could stream Sky Sports channels on your laptop, tablet, smartphone, or smart TV in any country in the European Union.

This was great for Brits who travelled abroad for work or on holiday since it meant that as long as they stayed in the EU, they could still watch all of their favourite shows and movies.

Needless to say, companies like Netflix which provides different services in every country and rights-holders who could see a glaring loophole that viewers would be able to exploit, were far from pleased.

But the law is the law and they had to comply, and the likes of Sky, BT Sport, Spotify, and Netflix duly did, albeit without making too much effort to ensure they subscribers were aware of the fact.

With the UK's exit from the EU being finalised on 31st December, all this is about to change.

With the EU Portability Regulation no longer being applicable in the UK, since we are no longer a member of the European Union and don't sit under the jurisdiction of the European legal system, companies are wasting no time in pulling the plug on this and making sure that UK-based subscribers can only access their service in the UK.

As Sky explains in a help guide on their website, “from 1 January 2021, you won't be entitled to stream Sky outside the UK… Certain rules mean people within the EU can stream content across all EU countries. From 1 January 2021, the UK will no longer be part of the EU, so we won't be able to provide this service in the same way.”

If you only ever travel to EU states, this might just be a major annoyance for you. If you travel around the world, it just means that going to the EU is like travelling anywhere and your streaming subscription will not be accessible overseas.

How to watch UK streaming services in the EU in 2021 and beyond

But it is not all doom and gloom. There is still a simple solution that will allow you to watch your favourite streaming service no matter where in the EU (or for that matter any other country) you are.

Use a VPN!

When you have signed up for a VPN, you can connect to a server back here in the UK. This will fool most online streaming services into thinking that you are in the UK even when you aren't.

As a result, you will be able to log into your streaming account and watch whatever you want, whenever you want, regardless of where you are.

There are a few streaming services, like Netflix and the BBC iPlayer that have cottoned onto this ploy and have actively attempted to block VPN users from being able to access their service.

But the best VPNs work hard to ensure that they still work with these services.

To find out the best VPNs for the streaming services you like to use, take a look at the streaming section on our website.

Brexit is going to have an effect on you if you like to stream outside the UK. But as long as you are using a VPN, you don't have to feel any difference at all.

David Spencer

Author: David Spencer

Cyber-security & Technology Reporter, David, monitors everything going on in the privacy world. Fighting for a less restricted internet as a member of the VPNCompare team for over 5 years.

Away from writing, he enjoys reading and politics. He is currently learning Mandarin too... slowly.

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