I used to love Netflix, it’s different, has lots of great movies/series and it’s very easy to access using Smart TVs or my favorite the Roku. But this Summer they pushed me too far, I had ‘discovered’ the show – Lost about 8 years later than everyone else. I’d listened to everyone rave about this, glazed over as they discussed strange sound plots and completely ignored it – mainly due to the hype. Well one day I noticed it on my Netflix account and thought I’d give it a try, the rest is a story about obsession. For a few days I watch a couple of episodes a day – right up to my vacation. I couldn’t wait to get back to complete the series but when I returned it had gone !!!!
Lost no longer appeared anywhere on the listings, a search revealed it was ‘unable to stream’. A Google search revealed lots of very upset people like me, stuck on an episode somewhere, stranded at some cliff hanger movement and now we were all ‘Lost’.
No warning, no countdown enabling you to take a few days off work and cram them in. One day Lost was there and the next day it had completely disappeared, what a wonderful way to treat your customers! Well a little research, led me to a few conclusions – firstly the show had only actually been removed from the UK Netflix, secondly Lost was still streaming on the US version and lastly my account would work on US Netflix if I had an American IP address.
So here’s what I discovered -
The truth is that if you use IP cloaking software like Identity Cloaker and hide your real IP address – you can be watching US Netflix irrespective of your real location. If you haven’t checked it out, then you’ll also discover that the US version had loads more shows and films – usually much more up to date stuff too. So it doesn’t matter if you’re in Canada, Germany, UK or Italy then you don’t have to stick with the version of Netflix you have been assigned you can pick your own.
You don’t need to open a new Netflix account, they seem to be global but just redirected to the country you are in.
It’s often a shock, after all why offer an online version of the BBC and then block anyone who isn’t in the UK. But for many trying to access BBC Iplayer when they’re abroad becomes a bit of a challenge, you know it’s possible but connecting up can be difficult. The search usually leads to things like VPNs and proxies, which for anyone living abroad are now essential – they basically give you access to all the best media sites online – irrespective of your location and IP address. So when the BBC, Hulu, ABC or M6 Replay checks your location and IP address and then decide what you can see – the proxy or VPN just tells them what they need to see – and allows you access.
For instance, I was recently in Spain with my work and got kinda bored staying in a hotel. So decided to watch some UK television online using my laptop. Unfortunately I then discovered that because I then had a Spanish IP address (from the hotels Wifi), I was now blocked from all the best UK websites like the BBC Iplayer and ITV etc. It was kind of annoying until I discovered there was a solution and an easy one at that.
By the way if you don’t know why people are so keen to get access to BBC Iplayer - you should really check it out. It’s without doubt one of the best media resources available online, in fact I don’t think anything comes close although there are some excellent US sites like Hulu and Pandora for music.
Anyway for those of us who either live or travel abroad a lot, having access to these sites is a godsend. You don’t have to sit watching a TV show in a language you don’t understand or some awful cable channel.
So What is the Solution to Watching BBC IPlayer Abroad?
Basically the problem is your IP address, everyone is linked to a specific country and it’s very easy to look up. Many websites look your location up as soon as you access their site, they then tailor what you can see based on that information. It’s called Geotargeting and frankly it’s extremely annoying – you’ll normally get an error message like the image below.
Or perhaps this one if you try and access Pandora outside the US.
The way around it is quite simple, you just have to make the website think your in a different country by using an IP address from the required country. Unfortunately you can’t modify your own address easily as this is assigned by your ISP. However you can connect via a proxy server based in the correct country and use it’s address.
So for example to watch BBC Iplayer outside the UK you’d connect through a UK proxy. If you wanted to watch Hulu from outside the US then you’d need a proxy based in the USA, Pandora needs an American one too and so on.
It’s really that simple – the website sees the IP address of the proxy server and not your real one. This short video shows the steps -
Where do I get a Proxy Server to Watch Iplayer or Hulu?
There’s a few options depending on time and budget. You can find some free ones online if you search – however it takes a long time to find one in the right country and fast enough to relay video through. In reality you’ll be best to settle on one of the many services that are available. A commercial service should be plenty fast enough and you know it will always be working when you want to watch something.
The one I use is Identity Cloaker which has been around for many years – it’s way better than any of the TV watching services and does much more. Try the trial first if you are unsure to test it out -
Identity Cloaker 10 day trial – it gives you access to all the top media sites in UK, USA, France, Canada and Germany to name only a few.
You may wonder why I’m writing about Poland and worrying about where to find a proxy server in Poland. Well although I have no real need to access Polish websites, I happen to know a few people who live near me and do.
In years gone by the internet was pretty open, I rarely remembered ever getting blocked access to a website. But things have changed now and there are lots of filters, blocks applied all over the place. In the last few days I was blocked from accessing Hulu in the USA, my banking site and a funny video clip on YouTube because ‘it was not accessible in my region’.
Fortunately for those of us who get cross about these sorts of things – there are now loads of tools and services which can bypass these blocks which use VPNs and proxy servers. It’s easy to find one if you want standard countries like US and the UK but they can be difficult to find for smaller countries.
For example my friend comes from Krakow but now has settled in the UK. But much of his family are still in Poland and he often finds himself connecting back to Polish websites. Unfortunately increasingly he gets blocked because his location (or IP adddress) is outside Poland. Last week it was a Polish TV site online and a bank based in Krakow that had an online service. It’s exactly the same reason you can’t access Hulu from the UK or some of the cracking shows on Canadian TV that are online.
The technology is called Geotargeting and the easiest way you can see this demonstrated is simply by using Google. So here’s what I get if I go to Google -
Google checks my IP address when I connect, cross references with a database of IP Address/Country and sees I’m in the UK so delivers the British version of Google.
But unfortunately this technology is also used to lock me out of many web sites and applications that are not UK based. SO I can’t watch Simpsons on Hulu, listen to music on Pandora or anything that is restricted to other countries.
Anyway I’ll show how I can change my IP address to a Polish one as a quick example. All I need to do is connect to a Polish server and tunnel my connection through that. This will then fool the web site into thinking that’s my location. There are lots of services which can do this but one I use often is called Overplay
Here’s the software working, I just select the country I need and then press connect. In this case I want to get an IP address from Poland so I select a Polish server from the list. I then just put in the username and password and I’m connected – that’s all there is to it – takes about 10 seconds.
Here’s the connection screen, then you just minimize it to the task bar and carry on as normal. However while this is connected all my requests are being routed through the server in Krakow, and that’s where I’ll appear to be from.
Now you can see that if I visit Google, this time I’ll be given the Polish version because my IP address is listed from Krakow. If I change connections I’ll be given a different version Of course this isn’t particularly useful as I’m not really in Poland. But if I wanted to access a Polish media site or online banking then it would be very useful.
If I changed to a US server I could use all the American sites even on my Ipad, change to Canadian server and watch Canadian TV and so on. They’re well worth checking out as you get all the servers included in the subscription – helpful support too – Overplay Trial.
Here’s a question that many people want the answer to – How can I obtain a US IP address? Well hopefully this post will help. If you don’t want an explanation about proxy sites and simply want an American IP address at a very low cost – then try this service – here, for a few bucks a month you can have a host of secure, fast US IP addresses plus Canadian, UK, Australian and lots of other countries at your fingertips.
Many web sites determine what you see based on your location, so for example if you want to watch Hulu – you need to be in the USA. Access is controlled by location so it doesn’t matter if you’re a US citizen, if you’re trying to access Hulu from a hotel in Rome then you’re Italian and you’ll get blocked. This is why changing your real IP address is becoming a much more common requirement, simply because that loads of the best websites restrict access depending on the location of your computer.
So for example anyone outside America may get blocked from a US banking site, and you’d certainly be blocked from accessing US-only sites like Hulu or Pandora.
More and more sites are restricting access based on location, it’s often due to licensing issues. Another reason is economic, many websites operate price discrimination (basically charging different prices to different people to maximise their profits), they obviously don’t like consumers finding the cheaper options!
So if you wanted to access a US only site and you’re outside the US, then you need to acquire a US IP Address. Then you could buy from a US only site or watch something like Hulu or Pandora irrespective of your location. Now your IP address is assigned to you by your ISP when you initially connect, there’s no way to change this without losing internet access.
However although you can’t change your IP address - you can hide your true address and present another one. You do this by connecting via either a VPN or a proxy site, both of these will obscure your real IP address. They both operate in similar ways, the proxy server routes all your web traffic via itself and simply forwards all data in both directions. The VPN is actually a secure, encrypted tunnel which routes all traffic from your computer through the VPN server. Both have strengths and weaknesses. In reality a VPN is more difficult to detect by remote web sites, although this can involve a slight overhead on speed in some situations.
Which one you choose is really dependent on what your requirements are – a VPN gives you security and more access to remote sites. But if you just wanted to access something like the BBC or maybe to watch Canadian TV in the US then a proxy server is enough.
So perhaps we want to watch some shows on Hulu but we are based in Europe, for this particular channel a proxy won’t work as Hulu is able to detect them – so we need a VPN service. Unfortunately there are no free VPN services available unless you can access one through your employer or college. Many multinational companies have VPN/Remote access services to allow employees to access their home location. It’s worth checking this out although you should ask your IT department for clearance . Or you could make your own by installing a VPN service on a rented server or a friends US based computer.
But an easier option is to just select a VPN service which allows access to a wide variety of servers especially if you want to use it with an iPad or mobile device, check this post - Watching BBC Iplayer on Ipad in US. These services are all pretty low cost now and the best ones include servers all across the world. Here’s some things to check out when looking for a decent service :-
- Firstly check that the company have some method to allow easy connection. The decent companies have custom connection software to allow you to connect/disconnect easily.
- Make sure your subscription allows access to multiple servers in different countries included.
- Speed is essential if you’re going to use the service for watching video or any streaming media – try to choose a trial account first to test this.
- Be careful you don’t get locked into renewing accounts – use a payment system like Paypal if you can which you can cancel easily.
Unfortunately although there is now lots of choice, many of these services don’t have the knowledge and infrastructure to support high speed access. Avoid anything that seems too cheap or sponsored by advertisements, always test first with a short subscription or trial.
I basically use two different services which offer both proxy and VPN functionality at a decent price. Basically these will give you a full US IP address plus loads of different nationalities at a click of a button
Identity Cloaker is primarily a security product but offers both proxy and VPN modes for accessing BBC Iplayer, Hulu and all media sites. They have loads of US and even more UK based servers so if you want to watch the BBC Iplayer service then it’s probably your best option. They do have lots of servers in the France, Germany, Australia, Canada and throughout Europe as well though. They also don’t automatically renew your subscription either which I like.
Overplay is another great little company, I like their connection software which is easy to use. Lots of US servers included in the standard subscription. They also have the widest selection of servers although perhaps many won’t use most of them. If you need a server in somewhere unusual they are most likely to have them. The support staff know their stuff and are very helpful.
Both these companies allow Paypal and are easy to cancel when you need. They also had the fastest servers out of the ones I looked at. Don’t worry that they don’t openly advertise the bypassing functionality for sites like Hulu, BBC, ABC etc – it’s deliberate, the services which openly promote this functionality get closed down eventually.
I’ve started to leave my laptop at home nowadays in preference to the wonderful iPad I bought last year. After I got used to the fear of dropping it, it’s become an essential companion – much easier to carry than a laptop, starts up immediately and is basically just a joy for a traveler.
Of course there are limitations, including the well documented Flash problem. However one of my main issues was the fact when I travelled to the USA, lots of my UK sites like BBC Iplayer and ITV just wouldn’t work. Now this isn’t a problem with the iPad specifically but it’s due to the fact that most of the UK media sites block access to anyone outside Great Britain. So I had to figure out how to change my IP address to a UK one by using proxies or VPNs to bypass these blocks.
Watching Iplayer using an IPad VPN
Now I work in IT Security and one of my favorite tools is Identity Cloaker which I also use to bypass all these location blocks. It works great on my laptop and PC but the software wasn’t currently available for the Mac OS or iPpad. However fortunately all of their servers including the US ones are VPN enabled – so all I needed to do was connect to one of those.
Anyway here’s the steps I followed to watch BBC Iplayer from the US -
- Select Settings
- Select General
- Select Networks
- Select VPN
All being well – you’ll be at this screen
So in this screen you can already see one VPN already set up – this one is for the US. But I need to add a UK one so -
Click - Add VPN Configuration
You should then find yourself in this screen -
Looks a little confusing but it’s not actually that difficult. Now two pieces of information are not published by Identity Cloaker for security reasons – but these are in the members area when you log in or email and ask for help if needed.
Here’s how you fill the fields in -
- Description – Give it a descriptive name – usually country name is best.
- Server – This is in the member area for Identity Cloaker users- UK VPN server names
- Account Name – Your Identity Cloaker Username
- RSA SecurID – Ignore this
- Password – Your IDC password.
- Secret – This is in members area for Identity Cloaker users under – VPN Secret Name
That’s all there is to it – just remember to Save the VPN configuration before you exit. It is there ready for you to use, whenever you need a UK address then you just enable the VPN as follows.
So to enable the VPN just turn it on from this screen, switch the slider to on. In this situation we would turn the British one on so we can watch BBC Iplayer outside the UK. Remember when you enable the VPN all data is routed through that server down an encrypted tunnel. You may want to disconnect to do your normal browsing after – although you should use it for secure browsing – online banking etc.
When the VPN is enabled properly then you should see this in the top left corner of your Ipad.
This method will probably work with other proxy/VPN subscription services as long as their servers are set up for VPN access – just ask them for the information you need. To get access on a laptop or PC then check out this other post - BBC Iplayer outside UK.
If you haven’t got an Identity Cloaker subscription – it’s best to try this cheap ten day trial first to make sure you can get it working.
Updated – included extra information on VPN
I’m sure you’ve heard of it – as Hulu is one of the most popular TV/Video sites on the planet. It’s full of great American shows and not just the two year old ones – you’ll find the very latest Simpsons, Family Guy, Glee and Americas’s Got Talent. Anyway the problem is that unless you live in the US you won’t be able to watch it at all.
Watching Hulu from Outside the US
Here’s what happens when you try and access the Hulu site – you get the following little message -
It doesn’t matter where you live, if it’s not in the USA then you’ll get this message or similar. Even if you try from Canada you’ll get exactly the same – doesn’t seem fair does it !! The problem is that the website looks up your IP address when you connect and works out where you’re based – anything non-US and you can’t access the site, you need to present a US IP address or you won’t get anywhere.
The solution as many have found is to hide your real IP address and use one that is based in the USA. You have to use a US server to route all your traffic through when accessing Hulu.
You used to be able to use a simple US proxy server for this and there were even a few free ones supported by advertising like Hotspot Shield. However unfortunately those don’t work now as Hulu is able to detect when these proxies are being used.
You need to find a service that provides a more secure connection, or if you work for a company who have a US office ask them if they have a VPN you can use !
Anyway you’ll find there are lots of companies offering proxies and VPN services online – mostly for a very reasonable cost. The one I use is actually a security program which is great for watching media sites as they have lots of servers in different countries and it’s certainly the best value – it’s called Identity Cloaker.
It’s very easy to use – here’s the screen where you select the proxy server to use -
It’s very easy to use – whenever you need to hide your IP address, you fire it up and simply click on the server you need – in this case for Hulu, you need a US based one. Identity Cloaker has servers in the UK, Canada, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Australia and a few others.
If you go back to the Hulu site you’ll go straight in and be able to watch the shows without any problem.
I currently use Identity Cloaker all over the world – for BBC IPlayer and ITV when outside the UK and for the US sites when I’m at home. It’s well recommended, the servers are really fast and you can even run the program from a USB key if you use different computers when travelling – try the 10 Day Trial Here to check it out first.
If you want to see a post on how to use it watch BBC Iplayer – this might help you – BBC Iplayer Abroad 2012