Region-blocked content is annoying -- and avoidable. Whether you want Hulu on demand, instant access to the BBC iPlayer or a dose of iView when you're working overseas, here are the best (and easiest) ways to get that content.
One of the main challenges with streaming content from overseas is that the landscape for doing so constantly changes. Historically you've needed to set up a virtual private network (VPN) to access content from overseas, but these days often all you need is to choose the right extension or web service. First, we'll look at our favourite (and simplest) way of getting to region-blocked content, then check out some of the alternative possibilities.
The Easiest Method: Hola Unblocker
The previously mentioned 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. You can also add extra services, including AETV, Google Play, Syfy, YouTube and others using the Windows client. 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). That said, it doesn't support every broadcaster out there. For fuller access, you need to dig a little deeper.
If you're looking to watch videos or listen to music from other services, here are a few more useful options.
- Unblock.Us: Unblock.Us is one of the simplest ways to get around region-blocked content, blocks from your ISP, or any other restrictions you run into. You get a free week-long trial, and it's $US4.99 a month after that. For a free alternative, check out Tunlr. Both services also support set-top boxes such as the Apple TV and Playstation 3.
- Use Any VPN You Want: Another option is to 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). If you subscribe to a Usenet service such as GigaNews, you may get a VPN for free as part of the package. This keeps your data more private than some of the easier-to-use services, but it may slow down your connection.
- 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 500MB of data for the month (probably less than an hour of streaming); $US4.99/month gets you unlimited access.
- Set Up A Proxy Server: If a browser extension is more your style then using a proxy service is an easy option. The speeds won't be fantastic, but it's easy to shut off when you're done. You can also try the Tor browser for more proxy-related options.