Let’s be honest, geoblocking is a pain. There really is no other way to describe it!
Geoblocking is such an arbitrary rule in today’s global economy. There might have been some sense to it in previous decades, but the Internet has thankfully opened the world up!
What is Geoblocking?
For those of you that do not know what I’m talking about, geoblocking is when a channel or some form of media is blocked based on the region you are watching it in. Some examples of this are BBC iPlayer only being available in the UK, Netflix having some specific shows that are broadcast on US Netflix and not available elsewhere, and even PPV sporting events that are only viewable in specific parts of the world.
Why is Geoblocking A Step Backwards?
You might not understand why I think it’s such a backwards step, but let me give you a quick real world example. You might have heard that Star Trek is back on our TV screens after more than a decade (even longer if you discount Star Trek Enterprise which really wasn’t that good). If you live in America you can only view this on CBS by subscribing to their new streaming media service (CBS All Access,) which they are trying to set up to compete with Netflix and Hulu.
Guess what though … if you live outside of the USA, Star Trek is available on your local Netflix … AT NO EXTRA CHARGE!
See when it’s just a plain money grab, it infuriates me – and that’s all this is. In this case, the citizens of the US are getting the shaft, but in most other scenarios it’s the other way around and companies like Netflix are really unable to do anything about it because Television Companies have decided that it is more “profitable” to deal with smaller regions rather than servicing the whole globe.
How can you get around Geoblocking?
Fortunately, there are ways to get around these arbitrary rules and some of them are easier than others. Here is a quick run-down of some strategies to use, from the easiest to the hardest and riskiest:
- VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) – Probably the simplest option, premium VPNs can either be software or hardware based, and they are used create a secure tunnel between your device(s) and the content you are trying to access. You are able to mask your originating location by using the VPN Servers location.
- Smart DNS – DNS (Domain Name) Servers are really what make the Internet work. In the days of yesteryear, it was possible to set up a virtual DNS so that it would look like you were connecting from one place, when in reality you were somewhere else. Unfortunately, most of the big players (Netflix, iPlayer etc.) have blocked this method of accessing their content, so it’s not really workable. Where they work, you still need to be careful as your content is not encrypted so your ISP or anyone else snooping on your link will have knowledge of what streams you are viewing.
- Proxy Servers – These sometimes work but aren’t really consistent, especially with services like Netflix. Proxy servers act as an intermediary for the content (the proxy,) but they are not easy to set up and not really that good. Any connections that do complete are unfortunately unencrypted.
- Torrents & other connections – If you’re truly desperate to view something, this might be a path you’d explore, but I’d really urge you to stay as far away as possible from this method of obtaining content for quite a few different reasons.
The problem with torrents
- Torrent sites are littered with viruses and other malware. The minute you download something to your system from one of these sites, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to infection.
- Connectivity with these sites and servers is ridiculously slow too. Sometimes taking days to download a file even on the fastest of connections. If you’re interested, I’ll explain that in more detail in a future post!
- Torrent sites do not have live content. They are only useful for sharing recorded files. Don’t waste your time trying to watch Boxing or UFC.
You might have guessed that I am NOT a fan of Torrents!
These are probably the most common methods of obtaining content online while bypassing geoblocking. The only one that will work without fail is the use of a VPN. Not only are you protected in what you are doing, but you are also able to quickly and easily change your perceived location without any complicated programming or legwork.
If you want to try out a well-respected VPN, check out Shellfire VPN. Their free service is definitely OK, but their premium offers are much more of a long term strategy. Choosing their premium option gives you fast and tried and tested service.