How to watch American Idol in the UK

If you’re trying to watch American Idol in the UK, unfortunately no UK-based streaming services own the rights to the show. You’ll have to wait until it’s released on TV and there’s no telling how long that will take, if at all.

The good news is you can watch every episode of American Idol from the comfort of your UK home, right now.

All you need to do is gain access to the US-based streaming service, Hulu. And to do that you need a fast, reliable VPN.

This article will explain how to watch American Idol in the UK using a VPN.

See also:

How to watch American Idol in the UK: Quick Guide

To watch American Idol in the UK, you need a VPN that is compatible with the US-streaming service, Hulu.

Hulu is based in the US and in order to unblock its content in the UK, you need a VPN that provides reliable US servers.

To get one, follow these simple steps below:

  1. Create a new account with ExpressVPN ($6.67/month)

  2. Download and install the new VPN app

  3. Open your VPN and connect to a US server

  4. Go to hulu.com

  5. If you don’t have a Hulu account, create an account (more on this below)

  6. Start streaming American Idol in the UK

How to create a Hulu account in the UK

If you try and access Hulu wihtout a VPN, you’ll come across errors and won’t be able to play any content. You won’t be able to create an account either.

After downloading ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month) and connecting to a US server, you’ll no longer come across these errors. But simply connecting to a US-server won’t give you access to Hulu, you’ll need to create a Hulu account.

Recently Hulu has started using a second layer of security by only allowing payments for an Hulu subscription from a US credit card or PayPal account. There’s a few ways you can get around this:

  1. You can ask a friend or family member in the US to create a Hulu account for you
  2. You can use an American Express card
  3. You can purchase an Hulu gift card from mygiftcardsupply.com and create an account from anywhere in the world. (Mygiftcardsupply is a trusted and reliable website where you can purchase a variety of gift cards from anywhere in the world.)

If you already have a US credit card, you can easily make a Hulu account however, this isn’t an option for most people. The easiest way to create a Hulu account in the UK is using gift cards. Follow these steps below to create an Hulu account using gift cards in the UK.

  1. Go to mygiftcardsupply.com
  2. Search for Hulu cards
  3. Choose between a USD$25, USD$30, USD$50 gift card (note that standard Hulu costs USD$14.99/month)
  4. Select if you want to make a one-off purchase or a repeat purchase every few months
  5. Proceed to checkout and confirm your purchase with your email address
  6. You’ll receive an email with a link. Click on that link, and that will give you access to your Hulu gift card
  7. Connect to a US server on ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month)
  8. Create an account at www.hulu.com
  9. Go to Redeem a Gift Card | Hulu and enter the 10 or 12 digit code from the back of your gift card.
  10. Choose your State or Territory, enter your ZIP Code (you can do this by googling) and then choose Continue.
  11. Click I have an account: Choose the Sign in link. Enter your account email and password. Then, choose Sign In and Redeem
  12. Return to www.hulu.com
  13. Enjoy watching Hulu in the UK

Why isn’t Hulu available in the UK?

Like other streaming services such as Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+ and Amazon Prime, Hulu tries to block anyone outside of the US from viewing its content. The reason it does this is because of content licensing.

To comply with the content licensing agreements it has with its partners, Hulu only allows users inside the US to watch its content.

Hulu does not have the rights to broadcast its content in the UK. If you’re in the UK and trying to watch Hulu, it will block your connection. 

Hulu does this using geo-blocking technology. The streaming service is able to identify your location when you connect to its service. If you are connecting from outside of Hulu’s broadcasting zone (the US) you can guarantee that you’ll be blocked.

How to watch American Idol in the UK

How do I get around Hulu’s geo-blocks?

Hulu’s geo-blocking technology works by scanning your IP address. Whenever you connect to the internet, your device is given a unique IP address. 

Your IP address (like the area code on a landline phone) contains specific information about your location. Hulu can scan this IP address and determine whether you are in the US or not. If it finds you aren’t in the US, it blocks you from accessing its content. 

To get around these geo-blocks you need to change your IP address to one that is based in the US. Good VPNs like ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month) allow you to do this.

How do VPNs work?

A VPN allows you to hide where you are located when you connect to the internet. It does this using a massive network of servers and encrypting your information. 

VPNs reroute your internet connection through their own servers. When this happens the VPN encrypts your data and sends it to an IP address in a location of your choosing. 

Once your data reaches your chosen server, it is unencrypted and sent to a local internet service provider. 

This process allows you to achieve an anonymous internet connection a well as allowing you to browse the web from a virtual location of your choice. 

The VPN can make Hulu think you are connecting to its service from within the US. This will allow you to watch Hulu from anywhere in the world. 

How to watch American Idol in the UK

Will any VPN work?

VPNs are now very popular and they’re a big market. As with anything this popular there has been an influx of both good and bad VPN providers. 

Good VPNs like ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month) will work with Hulu, bad ones will run into issues.

These issues occur because Hulu attempts to block VPNs. It does this by monitoring for abnormal amounts of connections coming from the same IP address. 

VPNs especially free VPNs, usually have more customers than IP addresses. Because of this, users are forced to share IPs provided by those VPNs. This makes it easy for Hulu because there will be an abnormal amount of traffic connecting to its service from the same IP address. When this happens Hulu blacklists that IP address.

Bad VPNs don’t have measures in place to get around these checks. Fortunately, the best VPNs do.

In order to reliably watch Hulu in the UK, you need a VPN that stays one step ahead of Hulu’s blocks. You need a VPN like ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month). These VPN providers play a cat and mouse game with Hulu. 

When an IP address provided by these VPNs is blacklisted by Hulu, good VPNs like ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month) will close it and open a new one. This is how they keep one step ahead of Hulu and it allows you to reliably stream American Idol in the UK.

The best VPNs to stream American Idol in the UK

1. ExpressVPN 🥇

Why You Should Use ExpressVPN? It’s the fastest and MOST reliable VPN of 2023

ExpressVPN UK screenshot

Pros

  • ✅ Fast servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 10-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 24/7 Live Chat
  • ✅ Easy-to-use app
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • ❌ Expensive
Best VPN list - ExpressVPN

Special Offer for you!

Get 3 extra months free when you sign up for a 12-month ExpressVPN plan. That’s 15 months in total for the price of 12.

Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speed: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 160 in 94 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $6.66/month for 15 months
  • $9.99/month for 6 months
  • $12.95/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon

ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) is still the best VPN. And importantly, it ALWAYS has servers that are open with major streaming sites such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, Amazon Prime Video, etc.

ExpressVPN is usually very good at playing Cat and Mouse with online streaming sites. Meaning, whenever one of its servers is blacklisted it creates a new one – giving its users a constant stream of servers that aren’t blocked. Needless to say, this is a valuable attribute if you’re looking for a VPN to unblock streaming sites.

Its app is easy-to-use and free to download on pretty much any device you can think of. Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, FireStick, Android TV, Roku, PS4, Xbox, Linux, even Apple TV (with a workaround). It’s got it all covered.

The app is another main reason this VPN is so good at unblocking TV streaming sites (that claim they block VPNs) is that its software takes a pragmatic approach to user management. While other VPNs tempt customers by promising them access to hundreds/thousands of servers in multiple countries, ExpressVPN does things differently.

With ExpressVPN you only have a handful of server locations to choose from. Once you select your location the app takes care of the rest. Assigning you to the fastest available server that’s not oversubscribed. This simple technique is so important, as it keeps ExpressVPN’s servers operating at lightning-fast speeds and prevents its IPs from getting blacklisted for “abnormal” usage in the first place.

Check out our full ExpressVPN review.

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2. NordVPN 🥈

A very quick and trustworthy VPN

NordVPN US screenshot mobile

Pros

  • ✅ Fast servers
  • ✅ No logs
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 6-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ✅ Easy-to-use app

Cons

  • ❌ No refunds for purchases from iTunes/App store
Best VPN list - NordVPN

Special Offer for you!

Sign up for a 3-year plan with Private Internet Access and save 83% + 3 months free. That works out at $2.03/month.

Number of servers: 5,000+ | Speeds: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 62 countries | Devices supported: 6 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $3.49/month for 2 years
  • $6.99/month for 1 year
  • $11.95/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon
  • ITV Hub icon
  • Spark Sport icon
  • CBC Gem icon

NordVPN is the most widely-used VPN in the world. And it’s easy to see why. It’s a polished app that delivers fast connections (more on this later) to a massive network of VPN servers.

It’s the most reliable at unblocking popular streaming services too – US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. This is because NordVPN hired a full-time technical team (that’s responsible for monitoring its servers’ connections with popular TV streaming services) and has been aggressively investing in its network of IP addresses in key locations.

Another interesting thing to note is that NordVPN is an industry leader in its development of Nordlynx technology. Nordlynx is built using the WireGuard, a new VPN tunneling protocol designed to outperform current standards (OpenVPN and IPSec). The benefits, according to NordVPN, are dramatically faster transfer speeds while connected to a VPN. My tests – New Zealand to London – confirm that Nordlynx is currently the fastest VPN on the market. However, the difference isn’t dramatic, a few Mbps is all.

Read our NordVPN review.

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3. Private Internet Access

The BEST low-cost VPN for streaming!

Best VPN list - PIA

Pros

  • ✅ Fast and reliable servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 10-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 24/7 Live Chat
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • ❌ Only 48 server locations
Best VPN list - PIA

Special Offer for you!

Sign up for a 3-year plan with Private Internet Access and save 83% + 3 months free. That works out at $2.03/month.

Number of servers: 25,000+ | Speed: >75% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 70 in 74 countries | Devices supported: 10 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $2.03/month for 3 years
  • $7.50/month for 6 months
  • $11.99/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon

Private Internet Access is one of the leading no-log VPN services with over 1-million paying customers.

This VPN is one of the best in the industry at beating streaming sites’ VPN bans. It provides reliable connections with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+ Amazon Prime Video, etc. It also allows 10 simultaneous devices to be connected to its servers at the same time, so you can share the account with your close friends.

If – for whatever reason – you’re not happy with Private Internet Access, there’s a 24/7 live chat support available to assist you with your problem. PIA also offers the industry-standard 30-day money-back guarantee.

From my tests (from New Zealand) I was able to get download speeds of 70 Mbps while connected to a UK server using the Private Internet Access VPN (my non-VPN speed is 100 Mbps).

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4. Ivacy

A very quick and trustworthy VPN

Ivacy US screenshot mobile

Pros

  • ✅ Fast servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ Dedicated streaming servers
  • ✅ 5-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ✅ 24/7 Live Chat

Cons

  • ❌ Only 5 devices
  • ❌ Sometimes runs slow
  • ❌ Occasionally block by streaming sites for several days
Best VPN - Ivacy on Mac

Special Offer for you!

Sign up for Ivacy and enjoy a 7-day trial with no strings attached

Number of servers: 1,000+ | Speed: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 275 in 100 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $1.16/month for 5 years
  • $3.50/month for 1 year
  • $9.99/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon
  • ITV Hub icon
  • Spark Sport icon
  • CBC Gem icon

If you’re looking for an excellent VPN, with an even better price tag, Ivacy ($1.16/month) is a great option.

This VPN has all the features you need to stream BBC iPlayer, in HD, from any country in the world. I’ve been testing the app recently on Mac, PC, Android, iOS and FireStick and the results have been impressive – unlocking BBC iPlayer, US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. with ease.

The Ivacy app is a little different in regards to its UX (user experience). Instead of just selecting a UK server, you need to select the specific BBC iPlayer server. Don’t worry, this isn’t a bad thing – by connecting to a dedicated BBC iPlayer server, it simply means that you’re connecting to an IP address that Ivacy knows works with BBC iPlayer.

For an extra $1.99/month (£1.74) you can add-on a dedicated IP. This will buy you sole access to an IP address in a country of your choice, meaning you won’t have to share your IP (and speeds) with any other use. I don’t recommend this though, using the regular Ivacy servers is enough 95 per cent of the time.

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5. CyberGhost

A very quick and trustworthy VPN

CyberGhost UK screenshot

Pros

  • ✅ 1-day free trial
  • ✅ Reliable servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 7-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ✅ Easy-to-use app

Cons

  • ❌ Expensive
  • ❌ Average speed scores
CyberGhost
CyberGhost

SPECIAL OFFER – 1-DAY FREE TRIAL

Take advantage of CyberGhost’s 1-day FREE TRIAL!

Number of servers: 1,000+ | Speed: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 275 in 100 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $2.75/month for 3 years
  • $3.69/month for 2 years
  • $5.99/month for 1 year
  • $12.99/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon

CyberGhost is one of the more established VPNs on the market. It has a well-established, and well-tested global network of servers that perform well.

From my tests over the past several months, CyberGhost has no trouble at unblocking major streaming services – US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max etc. This VPN performed well at maintaining download speeds, well above 65 per cent of my regular (non VPN) ISP speed.

That said, there’s nothing really unique about the service. Which forces you to look at its price-point. And there’s nothing special here. Its short-term $12.99/month price tag puts is well above the industry average of $10.10/month. Similarly, its long-term $2.75/month for 3 years deal isn’t much of a “deal” either.

Oddly, CyberGhost’s most unique feature is its a 1-day, no obligations, free trial. This is an appealing offer to customers who are new to VPNs. However, it’s important to remember that most reputable VPNs will offer customers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so try not to be too seduced by the offer.

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Is watching Hulu with a VPN legal?

In most countries, using a VPN is legal. There are only a handful of countries (spot the authoritarianism link) where using a VPN is illegal; these are: China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, North Korea, Iraq, Belarus, Turkmenistan, Egypt, Eritrea, Seychelles, Suriname, Namibia, Slovenia, Nicaragua and Tajikistan.

If you’re outside these countries and are using a VPN, you’re legally allowed to do so. However, it’s important to know that using a VPN with some streaming services may breach that service’s terms of use.

The Hulu terms of use state, “bypass, modify, defeat, tamper with or circumvent any of the functions or protections of the Services, including using any technology or technique to obscure or disguise your location when you are accessing the Services.”

This means, Hulu can stop your subscription and ban you from the streaming service if you try to access its content with a VPN turned on.

However, given the wide-spread use of VPNs, plus the many legitimate and legal use cases for VPNs, it’s fair to suggest that banning customers for using a VPN would be a heavy-handed and financially costly policy for Hulu (and other streaming services) to enforce.

If you’re trying to watch Hulu outside the US, you risk having your account banned. In theory. However, the best VPNs for Hulu use military-grade encryption it is impossible for streaming services to trace where you’re physically accessing its content from.

There’s one final thing to note on the subject: Hulu has never banned anyone for using a VPN to access its service.

For more information you can check out our article answering Is streaming with a VPN legal?

Patch Bowen
Patch Bowen is an accomplished technology journalist with a solid academic foundation, holding a degree from Auckland University. His expertise spans across a range of tech topics, with a notable focus on product reviews, industry trends, and the impact of technology on society. With his work featured on major New Zealand websites like Stuff.co.nz, thebit.nz, and The Press, Patch has established himself as a credible voice in technology media. His articles are known for their detailed analysis and practical insights, particularly in making complex technological concepts understandable for a broad audience. At ReviewsFire, Patch is renowned for his thorough evaluations and clear, informative writing style. He has a knack for identifying and explaining the nuances of the latest gadgets and digital trends, earning him a reputation as a trusted source for tech advice and information.

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