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Wanna Watch US TV Channels in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is one of the most popular relocation spots for US expats, however you may not be able to watch all of your favorite TV shows!

Things have changed a bit since we arrived 4 years ago. When we originally subscribed to Tigo, a local cable provider, they offered a package which included a decent # of US channels including 10 HBO channels as well as several CNN channels, (MSNBC was never part of the any package option). I generally watch CNN/MSNBC for the debates. I no longer rely on either for news, preferring to gather my own news via researched and trusted internet and youtube news sources -- but for those of you who do watch, this is the current situation.

Shortly after we arrived, NBC was abruptly dropped from the lineup.

According to Ricardo Cordero, Tigo marketing manager, some of the programs and series on NBC are under contract with other broadcasters in Latin America and the cancellation is not attributable to the cable company operators, rather a decision of the source.

I have no idea what happened to CBS and ABC (probably something similar involving money), however the US line up is pretty scant these days. Channels like FOX (not Fox News), E! and HGTV are still around with shows often in Spanish and definitely on a time delay. Even ESPN Sports and Fox Sports broadcast most of their NFL, NBA and other sports in Spanish. So to date, most of our channel line ups are Spanish channels or have Spanish announcers/commentators. (BTW this is actually a good way to learn Spanish but...sometimes you just want English!!!)

I have Apple TV so I cannot speak to Hulu or Roku (however, I would imagine the rules are similar). If you try using a channel app from the App Store for let's say, ABC, CBS NBC, Bravo etc, the app will ask you to provide information from your cable provider (which of course you will not be able to do because you are in Costa Rica and those cable providers are not acceptable).

You will also find in Costa Rica that your NETFLIX access is restricted as well as Amazon Prime. Also on NETFLIX there are many shows which you can get, but are in Spanish with English subtitles (again helpful for practicing your Spanish but a simply frustrating way to watch your favorite show, in my opinion).

Therefore, you might be wondering:

“How can I watch US TV from Costa Rica?”

What about streaming?

Unfortunately, because there are many US televisions shows and channels that can only be accessed from inside the US, you cannot stream them in countries outside the US.

An easy remedy ---- try using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) software.

On my Apple TV (without a VPN) I can already access many TV series from the US, but at a cost. (you cannot access shows like Dancing with the Stars, or any of the very popular voice/talent shows or shows on channels like OWN) Most shows are $14.99 to $24.99 per season per series - which can really add up.

I searched the internet looking for the BEST VPN to use for Youtube TV for those who are abroad.

I currently use ExpressVPN, which is a little expensive but is also widely considered to be the #1 VPN on the market. I use it to fake out websites and other searches when my location needs to be in the US. It works great and costs $12.95/mo. ExpressVPN has extremely fast servers in 94 countries, as well as the US. They also offer specials and offers, like 49% discount and 3 months free for every 12 months.

However, even though I have been using ExpressVPN for a number of years, it has not helped me watch any of the US channels I've been blocked from. (Except I will say that on occasion I have been able to access a show using my iPhone w/VPN and throw it via airplay to the TV)

My research did say that it was a great source for YouTube TV.

So, I spent the ENTIRE day on Wednesday trying to get access to my new subscription to YouTube TV (not to be confused with YouTube which we can get here for anything not US restricted) Youtube TV has a 70 channel lineup with practically every channel imaginable for $49.99/mo.

I watched the setup video. Went through the steps. Got the DNS changed on my Apple TV to the new one that goes along with my VPN to cloak my location and VOILA! It worked perfectly for NETFLIX and Amazon Prime YAY!!! was a dismal failure for YouTube TV.

I clicked on YouTube TV from the app. It immediately went to this screen

I clicked on "I'm in the US"

Next, I got the screen above. Went immediately to my phone (also with VPN turned on) Followed the instructions above and it still failed to show my location as San Francisco, even though I did an IPS location check, which you can see below.

I contacted Tech support at ExpressVPN, as of course you can't ask YouTube TV LOL We went back and forth for about 30 minutes. With his suggestion, I deleted the original setup and re did the whole thing again! NOTHING!!!

So, if I can't figure it out soon I am going to cancel the Youtube TV :(

Also to be clear, many folks here have great success with firesticks. Not knocking them but they have not worked for me. I have Three of them. The problem is, I have to spend way too much time going from app to app trying to find one that works for the show I want and then the worse thing ever...BUFFERING and FREEZING!! I can't deal with that. Once it took me 45 minutes to watch the first 15 minutes of a show!!! Football games are the worst. Might as well just be watching an outdated episode of the Kardashians on E! or some other random ridiculous TV show in Spanish!!! LOL

Also side note - NFL Game Pass does not work here either. Last year I lost the total $124.99 subscription fee when I canceled at the beginning of the season because it would not work in Costa Rica. They would not refund a single penny even though I had not watched one game!

If anyone has a solution/suggestion feel free to leave me a message in the comments!

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Randy Wright
Randy Wright
Sep 11, 2022

I have had a pretty good luck with a t95m black box which you can buy in the states at Blockbuster or on line for 20 to 35 bucks something like that and as long as you have a good internet signal it works pretty well. I watched Alabama and Texas today with hardly any interruption. Also you can get any channel in the United States pretty much and or any television show ever. And pretty much any movie ever it's kind of complicated to set up at least for me, I'm 66 and not real tech savvy so it was a little difficult but I managed so I imagine anybody could. Best of luck I live by the American…

John Griffith
John Griffith
Apr 04, 2023
Replying to

I found something in the DR and get every channel known to man. Even has NFL Ticket and Redzone. I’ve used it in DR, Honduras, Uzbekistan and now Florida. No VPN necessary.


The Bella Blog
The Bella Blog
Nov 23, 2020


Got it. Thanks !!


The Bella Blog
The Bella Blog
Dec 17, 2019

Hi Bridget - Unable to reply to your email. Please email me again with a whatsapp contact number if you have one. Thanks


The Bella Blog
The Bella Blog
Dec 16, 2019

Hi Bridget, thanks for the post. I did try USTV last year. II think we had to pay for the service to get all the games I wanted and had a problem regarding a limit of playback time? Also unable to view some of the channels I wanted. I also had to throw it from my phone to the TV which I prefer not to do. I have tried just about everything. I don't know if it's where we live or what my specific needs are LOL I'm happy you are able to see the channels you want! Thanks for the recommendation tho and I hope you are enjoying Costa Rica.

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