Everyone in Europe knows that the US has the best TV. You guys have ESPN, Comedy Central, and HBO. We have…other stuff. So, let’s look at how we poor Europeans can once again plunder your continent; but this time for decent evening entertainment.
If you’re a US citizen living abroad who has a US address, US credit card, and an account with a streaming TV service, things are simple for you. You just need a VPN and, with all your shiny US credentials, you’re ready to go. The problem is that Europeans often don’t have a US credit card so we can’t even sign up for these services. It’s that latter case we’re going to tackle today.
Step One: Get a VPN
It all starts with a VPN. You can’t even access any of the online TV streaming services from Europe without one.
You will also need to pay for a VPN. Free VPNs are either too slow or have limited bandwidth caps that you’ll blow through with an hour or two of The Americans. We have a full guide on choosing one, but our pick for this sort of thing is ExpressVPN. Sign up, download it, and connect to a US location. The good news is they have a 30-day money back guarantee so if you decide not to continue with your TV plans, you won’t be out of pocket.
Note that in the screenshot above I’m using TunnelBear because I’m locked into a sweet deal. Their free tier is good, but you should go with ExpressVPN.
Step Two: Get a Sling Gift Card
We’re going to use Sling TV because you can buy gift cards for it from outside the US. It’s one of the major TV streaming services, so it will give you access to a wide range of different channels, including premium offerings like HBO. Check out Sling’s website (through a VPN) to see exactly what’s on offer and at what price.
Head to PayPal and purchase a Sling TV eGift card. You can get between $25 and $100 in one go so make sure to purchase enough to cover the packages to which you want to subscribe for at least a month; if you buy more, it will just prorate the extra days on the end of the month.
Step Three: Sign Up for SlingTV
Now that you’ve got a VPN set up so you can access Sling’s US offerings and you’ve got a way to pay, head to SlingTV’s gift redemption page. Click “New User? Redeem Here” and set up your account.
You need to add a US billing address for tax reasons, but I just used the Empire State Building. I didn’t get charged any taxes either.
Select whichever package and premium extras you want. Be warned; it can get expensive quickly.
Next, add your gift card number and click “Redeem” on the payments page. Don’t add a credit card, even though the free offer is tempting. It won’t work.
Make sure to check the box confirming you’re over 18 and then click “Finish and Submit” to set up your account. And just like that, you’re in.
Step Four: Enjoy?
Since this is kind of a hacky solution, watching Sling through Google Chrome on your computer is by far the simplest solution. I’ve been unable to download the Sling app for my iPhone, Apple TV, Android phone, or Roku; all the stores are region locked.
Your best options if you want to watch Sling on an actual TV is to connect your computer using an HDMI or to have a dedicated HTPC that can run Chrome. Alternatively, you can use Google Chrome on your laptop to cast to a Chromecast (or a Mac to mirror on an Apple TV), but that’s just sharing your computer’s screen.
One final option that might be worth a try if you want to go all in is to buy a Roku from a US store and connect your router to a VPN. I can’t guarantee this will work, but in theory, it should since the Roku will never think it left America. You might also have some luck with Samsung or LG TVs as I suspect their app stores are less likely to be region locked.
Step Five: Keep Your Account Topped Up
You’ll receive an email from Sling a few days before your gift card account is about to expire. My package costs $40, so my $50 gift card got me about five and a half weeks rather than the usual month. Unless you top up by exactly the right amount each time, your renewal date will vary. You also have to top up by at least the monthly fee each time.
Head to your My Account preferences page on the Sling website and select the “Add Gift Card” link.
Enter a new code, click the “Redeem” button, and you’re back in action.
While it’s not an ideal situation, a VPN, Sling account, and Sling gift cards do mean you can watch US TV from Europe. I’m not 100% sure the hoops are worth jumping through as most major US shows make it to Europe on channels like Sky Atlantic pretty quickly, but that decision is for you to make.