From Sunday You Can Watch UK Netflix and Other Streamable Content While Abroad, All Thanks to the EU

By Tom Pritchard on at

A few years ago the EU made a big fuss about the difference in streaming content availability in its respective member states, and decided it wanted to do something about it. At the time a ban on geo-blocking was suggested, but it turns out the EU went with an idea similar to that suggested by Lib Dem MP Vince Cable with rules to make your home content 'portable'.

From Sunday (1st April) new EU rules on 'cross-border portability' come into effect, changing part of what it means to be part of the digital single market. The rules say that if you temporarily leave the country to visit another EU member state, you have to be able to access the same streaming media you would here in the UK - without having to resort to using a VPN or proxy.

The idea is to make life easier for EU citizens, and reduce the temptation of pirating content when they're abroad. So if you go to France, you should still be able to access UK-only Netflix content, sport streams, and so on, the same way you would if you were at home. Any paid service you can access at home has to be available for you if you travel within the EU, though the rules don't strictly define the length of what constitutes a temporary visit - meaning the specifics will need to be laid out by the content providers themselves.

The rules don't necessarily apply to free services or public service broadcasters, though, and the BBC has confirmed there won't be any changes to iPlayer. So no watching Top Gear or Newsnight while you sit by a Spanish pool.

Free-to-air services can make the feature available, but the rules say they have to inform users who will than have to login to the service - thereby verifying their home country. Providers also aren't allowed to charge users for this privilege, though the upside is that they don't necessarily have to purchase rights to content within host countries.

The EU believes providers are ready for Sunday's rule change, so you should be able to access the many things Netflix, Amazon, Sky, et al have to offer when you take your next European holiday. Enjoy it while it lasts, though. Theresa May has made it clear the UK will not be staying within the digital single market after Brexit, so these rules have about a year before they become totally irrelevant to us.

Anyone interested can read the rules in full here. [TorrentFreak]

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