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London Expat Living: A Look at TV in the UK

Christian steps in today to give his thoughts on London Expat living – particularly the TV situation!

I’m constantly being asked, either at work or by family and friends, if I’ve seen the latest episode of something – or if I’ve started watching some cool new series.  It’s important – not only for entertainment – but because it can help you stay in-sync with events back home.  For example, I get my US political news from John Oliver!

As an expat, trying to maintain this link to your homeland can be a bit daunting – especially because some of your favorite shows were available on Netflix in the US, but are not included with Netflix in the UK.  Some of your shows will be available with Freeview in the UK. Sometimes you’ll want to stream from your phone or laptop to the TV.

humax with tv eileen cotter wright

First things first – how does television in the UK work?

Tons of Options for TV in London

Well – you have many options for programming in the UK – streaming, terrestrial, cable networks, etc.  The first thing you need to do is get a TV license.  You can do that here.  Paying for a TV license is how the government funds the BBC and other public programming.  The next thing you need to know is whether or not you want to pay for premium channels (for watching things like HBO, or Premier League football).  If you do – you can get access to these services through BT, Sky, or Virgin Media.  Much like in the US, these can be bundled with home internet services and phone.

humax close up eileen cotter wright

The best advantage of being in the UK is Freeview.  Freeview is the UK’s over-the-air TV network.  With a TV license, you have access to 60 different channels without paying a monthly subscription.  Combine Freeview with services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc – and you’ll be getting an amazing amount of content for very little money per month.  Getting the most out of that content can be trick though.

Easy Freeview Installation

Enter the Humax FVP-4000T.  This little device acts like a DVR for terrestrial television in the UK.  This means that anything available on Freeview, you can record on this device and watch later.  It has a handy programming guide that allows you to watch anything from the last seven days – without having to record them previously!  You can, however, use the included 500GB hard drive to record anything you like.

humax channel offerings eileen cotter wright

Secondly, the box includes all the standard apps – such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, etc.  Of course, the major UK channels (4, ITV, etc) all have their own apps as well. Any programming available on those apps is available through the box – meaning that you don’t have to have stream from your phone/tablet.  If you did want to stream though – the Humax FVP-4000T uses DLNA file streaming to watch shows from your PC, phone, or tablet.  So if you did have shows or music stored on your computer, you could watch them in the comfort of your living room.  This also means you can stream iTunes through your TV speakers.

netflix and humax eileen cotter wright

Having the Humax has completely streamlined the way we enjoy TV in London. It’s perfect for those rainy days where we want to stay in and binge on the best shows. It’s great to have access to both our new favorite British shows but also check-in with the classics from the U.S. too.

Do you prefer cable to web streaming TV? How do you handle watching TV in the UK? Do you have Freeview or pay for a TV service?

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