In this post we will discuss:
Many users are unaware of the behind-the-scenes agreements that have been signed between streaming services (Hulu, Netflix, Disney +), series creators, and local networks. Licensing rights are complex and a show or movie that are available on your U.S. Netflix, may be unavailable in the country you are currently in, since the rights to that show might have been given as an exclusive to a local network. Examples of shows that are available stateside, but not abroad include (among many others):
You may feel annoyed, because you paid for a membership and feel ‘entitled’ to gain access to the shows you love. But the truth of the matter is that you are only entitled to shows available in the region in which you originally registered for the streaming service of your choice.
VPN services have created a good way of circumventing these ‘digital geographic borders’ put in place by content creators and streaming services. They essentially maintain IPs around the world - either in data centers, or belonging to real peers who voluntarily opt-in their devices into the network for some form of compensation. Each location has a unique IP, which allows websites to determine your current location. For example, if you are currently in Britain, your IP will look something like this: ‘192.168.0.1’ - the bolded numbers are a very common ‘area code’ for UK-based IPs. If you then relocate to China, your IP might look something like this: ‘188.8.131.52’. Computers can detect an IP address’ origins from the digits in said IP, as well as a host of other factors, including:
When you start using a VPN service, you can tap into the pool of global IPs they have and seamlessly toggle between ‘locations’ at the click of a button. At 10 am you can ‘be located’ in New York City, so that you can view hotel prices like a local for your upcoming trip. At 2 pm you could ‘be located’ in London, so that you can access Facebook from your company’s offices in Shanghai, and at 9 pm you could ‘be located’ in Rome, so that you can freely watch your favorite Italian cooking show.
One free VPN, which is popular among people who are traveling or living abroad and want to gain access to foreign content, is Hola VPN. Here is how you can download it on your personal computer:
Head on over to the Chrome Web Store, search for ‘Hola VPN’ and press the ‘add to chrome’ button:
Click the ‘Add extension’ button in the pop-up window:
You should see the Hola icon at the top right-hand side of your browser window (if not, then click on the puzzle-shaped extension button and select the ‘pin’).
Navigate to your streaming service’s website, and click on the Hola icon. You will see a drop-down window with a large button in the middle - press on it and select your location. In my example below, you can see the location set to United States. Once you are connected, you will see the flag of the country you are currently accessing the web from.
You are now all set to gain access to that show or movie, which was previously blocked for your location. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show! Popcorn is a nice recommended addition.
That's it folks! What once may have seemed like a technically complex and elusive solution for content streaming, can now be solved in a matter of minutes and a few clicks. Hopefully we have helped demystify how using a VPN can help you gain access to all your favorite content, no matter where you are in the world.