How to watch geo-blocked TV
Broadcasters can identify which country you’re in when you access their website. They use various methods to determine your location, but the most popular is something called Geo-IP look up. Basically, when you navigate to their website, the network address of your computer is sent to the web server. They can look up that address in a database to see the country that address is registered to.
To access region-blocked content, proxy and VPN (virtual private network) services work in largely a similar fashion. You’re unable to access the region-blocked content because the computer recognises your computer (or rather, its IP address) as being outside the geographic zone. So, instead of connecting directly to the server and giving away your location, you connect to an intermediary client that does reside in the serviceable zone.
VPN and Proxy servers
In the case of a proxy, you connect through another client. All your browser activity is routed through that intermediary client. A VPN, on the other hand, means network. You connect to a network with working clients and your browser activity is once again routed through an intermediary client. The big difference then is that a proxy is placed between your web browser and the server; it only reroutes the websites you visit through the intermediary client. A VPN reroutes all your network activity. A connection over a VPN can also incorporate additional security measures to protect your communication. You can set up a VPN to reroute your traffic through servers in other counties. Any VPN will do (although you might want to stick with one of these five).
The main disadvantage of VPN’s and proxy servers is speed. Having to reroute your communications with the server through an intermediary client impacts the speed and latency of your internet connection. If you’re connecting over a high-quality proxy server or VPN, its speed should exceed that of your internet connection. However, because of its nature, there’s always a chance that you’ll outpace the service’s speed, especially in the case of high-traffic services. Freely available web proxies can be useful in some cases, but usually can’t handle the traffic load that comes with streaming video.
Media Hint is a free extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox that allows you to stream region-locked content anywhere in the world. No need to deal with VPN’s or changing your DNS. Media Hint does all of that for you. It’s quick and easy to use, and doesn’t seem to affect your streaming speed and quality too much.
The Hola Unblocker extension for Firefox and Chrome is the simplest way to reliably watch the bulk of streaming content no matter where you are. You can get access to Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, BBC iPlayer and many other services using just the extension. All you need to do is install the extension, and Hola Unblocker does the rest. It’s incredibly simple.
If all you need to do is access a few streaming services, Hola Unblocker is the easiest way to do it because it doesn’t interfere with any other settings (or your overall internet access speed).
DNS Tunnelling Services
DNS tunnelling offers most of the same benefits, but with hardly any of the disadvantages of VPNs. Instead of rerouting all your traffic through an intermediary client, DNS tunnelling lets you connect directly to the target server. Better yet, DNS tunnelling can differentiate between different websites, meaning you can keep browsing regular websites as usual. This means you don’t have to toggle the service on and off every time you want to access region-blocked content.
One of the DNS tunnelling services that comes most highly recommended is UnoTelly’s UnoDNS. Pricing starts at $3.99 monthly. For $4.99 monthly, UnoDNS will even throw in bonus US and UK VPN’s, so you can have the best of both worlds. UnoTelly supports most region-blocked content, including Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, but also websites from Europe, Australia and New Zealand. If you visit one of these websites, UnoTelly will automatically help you pose as if you were coming from the right region. This way you can have Netflix open in one tab and BBC iPlayer in another! But the real beauty of Unotelly is that you don’t need to switch servers like you do with a VPN. Want to watch the BBC direct from the UK? No problems. Someone else in your home wants to watch Netflix from the US at the same time? No worries. As long as your bandwidth can handle it, you can access as many traditionally region-blocked television services from around the world as you like, all simultaneously.
Tunnelbear: If you want an incredibly easy-to-use, on-off switch, Tunnelbear works wonders. Simply download the software, flip the switch to the location you want, and you can start streaming immediately. When you want your normal internet back, turn it off. The free version will only get you 500 MB for the month (probably less than an hour of streaming), but $4.99/month gets you unlimited access.
Downloading the regional apps
If you want to use locale-specific apps like Hulu and Netflix in an unsupported region, you need to download the relevant apps from the appropriate country’s iTunes store. To do this, you’ll have to create a new iTunes account from the country of the app. Luckily, you can download apps with a US iTunes account, log back into your own country’s account and keep using the US apps. The only difficulty is updating regional apps. You need to be logged into the relevant iTunes account, update the app, logout and back into your normal iTunes account. Fiddly but not impossible!
Of course, without a credit card, you’ll only be able to download free apps. To download paid apps, you’ll need to add a payment method. For some countries you can create a virtual credit card, which you then charge with your real credit card. EntroPay is a virtual US Visa service which comes suggested by UnoTelly’s UnoDNS.