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How to Watch Geo-Blocked Shows Online

With the internet, the world should be our informational oyster, and so you may be surprised when you try to view a tv series or movie online via a streaming service and find you’re unable to access the content you want. What has happened?

If you’ve fallen foul of geo-blocking, don’t worry, there are ways around the obstacle so that you can relax and start watching that blockbuster movie or series that you’ve been waiting for. Keep reading to find out more about geo-blocking – and how to defeat it.

What Is Geo-Blocking?

Geo-blocking is used by companies or governments to prevent people from one country from accessing content that is available in another. If this happens, you may get a message advising you that you have been blocked from streaming the content, or you may simply be redirected to another website without realizing that this has happened. Either way, you’ve been barred from streaming your movie.

To get an idea of how geo-blocking works in practice, if you live in the UK, you’ll have no problem accessing the BBC’s iPlayer online; however, if you reside outside of the UK, you’ll be blocked from accessing the platform to stream content. Geo-blocking works by servers detecting the IP address of the device attempting to access them: this IP address tells the server where in the world the device is located.

What’s the Reason for Geo-Blocking Content?

There are several different reasons that geo-blocking is used. In the case of governments, it can be deployed as a form of censorship so that citizens are limited in terms of the nature and content of what they’re able to view online. Different countries have different levels of restrictions: the UK and the USA, for example, are relatively relaxed, whereas China imposes high levels of geo-blocking on its citizens.

Companies and organizations sometimes use geo-blocks to ensure that they stay on the right side of their contractual obligations. An example of this is Netflix: the company is required to prevent viewers in one country from streaming content from another via its platform.

Geo-blocks can also take the form of ‘blackouts.’ This usually happens to prevent coverage from an event being transmitted in the area that the event is taking place, where the event is being broadcast locally, or when the distribution rights are the exclusive property of one or more national networks.

Is Geo-Blocking Legal?

Geo-blocking is, generally, a legal practice, although the rules that govern it vary from country to country. However, the use of geo-blocks is being increasingly challenged by users around the world as people expect and demand transparency and free access to information, and this is likely to continue.

Bypassing geo-blocking is generally considered to be a legal practice.

How To Bypass Geo-Blocking

There are ways around geo-blocks, although some means are more effective than others.

Use a VPN

Installing and using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on your device is by far the best and most reliable way to stream content without limits.

A VPN effectively ‘masks’ your device’s IP address so that the server you’re trying to access doesn’t realize that you’re in another country. This prevents a geo-block from being triggered, meaning that you can get on with watching your show.

Some of the major streaming services – like Netflix – have recently gotten wise to what’s been going on and have taken steps to re-impose the geo-blocks. The company has done this by blocking anyone who is using a VPN from accessing the platform at all. Wondering how to bypass VPN blocks? There are already a plethora of new VPNs on the market designed specifically to get around this obstacle. It’s worth knowing that smaller VPNs tend to work better in this regard than their larger counterparts, as their IP addresses haven’t become as well known.

Using a VPN has lots of other benefits, too. It offers enhanced security, as it encrypts all traffic, keeping you much safer from hackers and other online threats; using a VPN when you’re out and about to connect to public Wifi is an effective way to keep your details secure and maintain your privacy, too. Some gamers also use specially designed VPNs to cut down on lag time and potential data throttling, meaning that they can enjoy faster, more responsive gameplay.

Use a Proxy Server

Alternatively, you could use a proxy server to mask your device’s IP address – this option also allows you to cache pages for quick viewing later.

However, there are two major downsides to this option. Firstly, it offers no security, and often platforms are quick to spot what’s happening and shut down the connection. Secondly, the speeds of proxy servers are notoriously dire, so even if you successfully manage to stream a movie or episode of a series, you’re likely to experience a lot of buffering.

Smart DNS

Finally, a Smart DNS is another tool that can be used to get around a geo-block. It works by replacing your DNS address with a fake one so that the server thinks you’re located in a ‘permitted’ region.

Although they’re fairly reliable, as with using a proxy server, a Smart DNS tool doesn’t keep your connection secure and private, and so this should be taken into account when weighing up your options.