9/22/13 Update: Season Four of Downton Abbey has started and the following directions still work. Episode One will be available on iTV for the next thirty days. If iTV asks you for a zip code, N70AA works.
There are some free ways to do it noted in the comments, but I did hear of some streaming issues with those methods.


How to Watch Downton Abbey Season Three with the UK in September


It’s true.

If you can’t wait any longer to see if Mary and Matthew have a wedding…

If your Dowager Countess Quote Tank is on empty…

You do not have to wait until January for Downton Abbey to make it’s long voyage across the pond.

With the right tools and proper determination, you should be able to begin watching it when it airs in the UK next month.

Some facts:

  • Downton Abbey Season three premiers in England on an as yet unknown date in September on Sunday, September 16.  It won’t begin airing in the US until January.  If you’re willing to wait until January, you have my permission to skip the rest of this post.
  • iTV, Downton Abbey’s home station, allows live streaming of their stations for some shows (not yet sure if Downton is one of them), and posts full episodes after airing, leaving them available for 30 days.
  • However, iTV will not let you watch episodes or clips unless your computer is located in the UK.
  • The UK is an expensive place to move just to watch a show three months earlier.
  • But there is a way to have your internet connection in the UK, something I’ve been testing and experimenting with for the past week (after a tip off from my Twitter friend Michael.)

The Discovery:

  •  Tunnelbear is a service that allows you to “experience the internet as if you were living in a different country.”  Basically, it hooks you up to a network which spits your internet connection out in another country, thereby allowing you to access UK content.
  • Tunnelbear also allows you to gain access to US internet content, so this would be a great tool for Americans (or others) abroad.
  • If it sounds sketchy or untrustworthy, I did research it, and it has good reviews from many people geekier than I, including LifeHacker and MacWorld.
  • Tunnelbear works on a computer or as an app on an iPhone or iPad, but there are some further complications* with the latter two options, so at least from my experience, using it on your computer is the only way to access UK episodes of Downton Abbey.

How to:

  • Download Tunnelbear.
  • Tunnelbear is a free service up to 500 MB per month, or $4.99 a month for unlimited data usage.  I went with unlimited since the average size of one television episode is 500 MB.  (My romance with Downton Abbey is totally worth $4.99 a month.)
  • After installing, open up your Tunnelbear dashboard and switch the dials to “On” and “UK”.
  • It’s a quirky little program, so watch until it says it’s connected.
  • Open up your normal web browser, go to iTV, and watch an episode of whatever you like.(No Downton Abbey episodes are currently available because it’s been more than 30 days since the last one aired, but you can test your Tunnelbear out by watching one of the episode clips, or watching another show on the iTV player.)(Also – enjoy the British commercials – they’re pretty awesome.)
  • When you finish watching, turn off your Tunnelbear and exit the program.  It’s a relatively new service, and as mentioned, rather quirky.  It will slow down your connection and possibly cause interference with other computer functions – only use it when needed.


  • * Complications with the Tunnelbear app:  iTV’s player is in Flash, which of course you can’t watch on Apple devices.  But iTV has a solution – it also has an app.  Unfortunately, that app can only be downloaded in the UK, and even though Tunnelbear can fool iTV, it doesn’t fool your iPad, so you can’t download an app that is restricted to the UK.
  • iTV is fairly secretive with their scheduling and internet availability.  All that I could find out is that Downton Abbey starts in September – I don’t have dates yet (but I will update this post when they are publicized) on Sunday, September 16.  Also, I’m not positive when they post full episodes – all of this will have to be seen as the season starts. // The first episode is up fully!
  • Double check your virus protection software after installing Tunnelbear.  Bears and McAfee don’t seem to get along on my computer, but with a bit of tweaking, I believe I’ve gotten them to have an amicable “not speaking to each other” relationship.
  • This is all somewhat theoretical – it works with current shows, but obviously, I haven’t tried it on a “real” Downton Abbey episode.  All of the research points to the conclusion that it will work, but no representation is made that the accuracy of this post will be perfect.  // Update: It worked perfectly!!
  • Tunnelbear and I have no affiliation whatsoever.

For the next month, we’ll be watching Season One and Two in preparation – you should too.  And just in case you need another copy of my Simple Downton Abbey Explanation, here it is:

(click to enlarge)

Downton Abbey

And to make sure that you’re not at risk of  being dying unexpectedly on Downton Abbey, check this one:

How to tell if you're at risk of dying unexpectedly in Downton Abbey.

60 thoughts on “DowntonHack: How to Watch with the British.

  1. I know nothing about Downtown Abbey. (shock and awe!) But tunneling is why it looks like I’m coming at you from San Francisco. :) I know, how very Liberal/Yuppie of me!

  2. Bwhahaha! Love the graphic. I need to actually WATCH the final episode from last season; my DVR deleted it on me and I haven’t had a chance to hunt it down.

    1. We aren’t trying to keep it from you, you will get it! It isn’t our fault that the channel that shows it in America or where ever chooses to show it after us. GET A GRIP!

      1. I failed to use my sarcasm emoticon – my bad. . If it’s any consolation, Austen is my favorite writer and Sheeran is my favorite singer.

      2. She was being sarcastic and not at all serious – no worries. We all know that England knows how to share – over half our shows come from you!

  3. I didn’t know you were the one who did that graphic. I so remember that from last year! I loved you even before I knew you.

  4. I use the Expat Shield download. It’s totally free, just a little buggy, i.e. buffering issues, during periods of lots of people using it.

    1. I also use Expat Shield. Occasionally it is a bit slow, but I am a night owl, so often watch later at night when there is less traffic. I don’t pay for HD cable, so my PBS channel crops the widescreen, which is highly irritating. The ITV stream will be in widescreen format. (Thankfully I got an HDMI port on my laptop and can connect it to my TV.)

  5. I just wanted to thank you for the info on Tunnelbear. Honestly, I didn’t know how I was going to make it until January to see “Downton Abbey” here in the US when all my friends in the UK were watching it next month! I thought I’d die of envy!

    I downloaded the program to my Mac earlier this afternoon, and it really works! I’m in heaven!

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  6. This is a blessing and a curse! I may have to stay off of facebook until January now, if my friends start watching it ahead of time. I love my Sunday Downton Abbey nights, I think it’ll be worth the wait to not have to stream it on my computer. But it’s tempting…:)

    1. I think I’m going to try to hook up my PC to my TV – I hate watching shows on my PC. We’ll see how it goes – if I don’t make the house explode with my overhacking.

        1. I have no idea how to do this – I should have said, “I think I’m going to GET CHRIS to hook my PC up to my TV.” That would have been more accurate.

  7. Love the “simple explanation!” :) We’re working through Season 2 right now, since it just became available for free on Amazon Prime. Might have to try this out.

  8. As an non-American, not living abroad, this could be life changing! There’s so much more tv content online that we can’t get to. I’m excited to try it! (what are your fav sites for watching shows?)

    1. You bring up a question I’ve always wondered about. Technically, aren’t you also an American?? Or is that a misnomer only to be used about United Statesians?? And if so, doesn’t that make us ridiculously egotistical to steal THE ENTIRE CONTINENT’S title for our residents? Actually, TWO CONTINENT’S titles!!

      I’m going to revolt and begin referring to myself as a United Statesian.

      As far as websites, I actually watch very little TV online – but I think the bulk of our shows can be found on Hulu or the network’s sites (NBC, ABC, CBS, Lifetime, TLC, etc).

  9. Nice! Last year, I used credit card rewards and bought a region-free DVD player. The day after the final episode of DA aired in the UK, I bought it from Amazon.co.uk. I’ve enjoyed having the DVD player for some of the smaller release UK films I wanted to watch.

      1. Go to sidereel.com. I watched every episode on there and I believe they go off of ITV’s schedule. They have nearly every show imaginable.

    1. That’s great! I love meeting other bloggers in Alabama. Be sure to sign up at alabamabloggers.com – and check out the lists for more bloggers in the area!

      Thanks for saying hi!

  10. I got TunnelBear a couple of weeks ago, after I read about it here. I’m SO happy! I have been watching Coronation Street and EastEnders, which I have missed, and now catching a lot of stuff that isn’t shown here. I’m particularly enjoying Mrs. Biggs. I watch ITV and BBC way more than American TV now. Thank you for changing my life!!

  11. Hey!

    My mom and I watch Downton Abbey for quality mother-daughter time and I can’t wait to tell her we don’t have to wait until January!! Thank you for posting this :) It was a great post!


  12. Okay, now I know I love you! I am watching it as we speak. Tunnel Bear is a piece of cake. I am trying it for free for this episode & will pay the $5 if all goes well through the episode. Thank you so much!!!

        1. I am impressed with your self-control. Something that, for Downton, I clearly don’t have. But that’s okay – I’m discussing over text like crazy with my pro-early friends! :)

  13. This works for Mac, too! iTV must have enabled a format besides flash or something! Another disclaimer you can cross out. Yippee!!!! Thank you SO MUCH for the tip!

  14. Just finished E. 1, S. 4. Have you seen it yet, Rachel? I tried explaining Tunnelbear to some peeps. Then I passed along this post. Thanks for being the original DowntonWikiLeaker! :-)

      1. Try Sidereel.com!
        You can watch season 4 on there… I have watch episode 1-2 now waiting to watch #3. Should be able to watch tomorrow!
        try it it’s worth it…

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