Is streaming (watching, not as in live streaming to other people) tv from other countries (from free to air channels) considered illegal?

type here use markdown

just wondering since theres a tv show that i wanna watch that doesnt air here, its on a free to air channel

Suppose i should say i live in the US

Maybe, but I wouldn’t worry about it.

I imagine you already searched for this and couldn’t get an answer, because the legality all comes down to specific copyright/broadcasting/streaming rights. I’m not sure how common it is for you, but I frequently get sent links (ex. youtube) and get hit with a “This video cannot be played in your country” message. Even though the Australian who sent it to me can see it fine, and it’s American video content, it’s blocked because a Canadian company has the exclusive internet streaming rights to that particular video clip in Canada.

But who owns the streaming rights to the particular episode of the TV show you’re trying to watch while you’re in the United States? Even if it’s obvious (say, the episode is on one of your networks right now), that doesn’t mean they have the Internet streaming rights, or any exclusive arrangement to that content. There’s no way for you to really know, and there’s no way for them to know that you’re watching it.

One day these media companies might figure this out and come up with some reasonable arrangement, but until then, it’s definitely a gray area.

It airs on ABC in Australia and as far as i can tell it doesn’t get rebroadcast here
I looked in the simulcast page and it wan only simulcasted in australia

depends. if you freely accessed it from the provider’s website without a vpn i would say no (for example i can watch tagesschau from ARD even though i live in the us)
edit: however, if you say used a vpn to watch doctor who which another channel definitely has rights to in the us it would be absolutely illegal. the chance of the law being enforced in this case, however, is virtually 0.

Well, the show i want to watch is basically exclusive to that network (as far as i can tell), but i did have to use a vpn since iview (the tv networks site for viewing tv online) doesnt seem to work in the us (no error, just darkens the screen like normal but doesnt play anything) so im not sure if thats illegal with a vpn or not, also the tv network the show is on is broadcast over the air for free in that country

i wouldnt worry about it. even if it is illegal, the fact that you’re using a vpn means basically nothing could happen. the worst possible normal outcome even if you didn’t use a vpn is just your isp complaining. vpn usually makes that impossible