How to Watch Genealogy and Other Television Programs from Other Countries

I like to watch the British television programs, including Who Do You Think You Are? When I was in Scotland last year, one evening in my hotel room I watched a movie on the U.S. version of Netflix. A Canadian friend of mine watches Netflix movies from his home in Canada.

How is that possible? The answer is simple: use a VPN.

The problem of watching some television videos on the Internet is that the producers and the broadcast networks may have an agreement to only make the programs available in one country, either when broadcast on the air or on cable networks or when making the programs available on the Internet. They handle the “problem” on the Internet by examining the Internet Protocol (IP) address of every computer that connects to the web site that stores the video and making sure that IP address originates from the “allowed country.”

The same is true for Netflix. While Netflix itself is available in many countries, many movies have licensing agreements with Netflix that only allow the movie to be shown in one country. That is especially frustrating when an American citizen wishes to watch a movie that may be legally shown to Americans but the citizen is on a trip to another country.

When a computer is connected to the Internet, it is assigned an IP address. Anyone or any computer can see the IP address, perform a quick look-up of the IP addresses, and determine what country the IP address is from. If the IP address is not from an “allowed country,” the connection is denied.

As a result, it is difficult for anyone outside the U.S. to view the U.S. version of Netflix or the U.S. version of Who Do You Think You Are? Luckily, there is an easy solution, called a VPN.

VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network.” It enables a computer or other network-enabled device to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if it were directly connected to the private network, while benefiting from the functionality, security and management policies of the private network. The primary purpose of a VPN is to encrypt data being sent over the Internet in such a way as to keep it secure, safe from prying eyes. However, a second benefit of a VPN is that it hides the originator’s IP address.

Use of a VPN allows a person anywhere in the world with an Internet connection to connect to a VPN server in another location, even in another country. If the VPN server is in the United States, anyone connecting to that VPN server will appear to be located in the same country. That person will then be able to access Netflix and other Internet video sites that normally block non-US connections.

If you would like to learn more about the process, read my recent article, Private Internet Access: an Easy-to-Install VPN for Windows, Macintosh, Android, iPad, and iPhone, in the Privacy Blog at http://goo.gl/jsuG6n.

12 Comments

Dick, I used Tunnel Bear the last time I was in Europe to watch my US Netflix. We’re moving in the spring and I was planning on continuing my US subscription and actually buying a UK subscription on my husband’s laptop (we really like Netflix). I understand Netflix will no longer be allowing people to use VPNs to watch US Netflix outside the US, however. It has to do with the access agreements they’ve made with their content providers.

Have you heard much about this issue? I believe we’ll still be able to watch US network shows in the UK, but I sure will miss the US Netflix, I think. The internet is an ever changing place so we just adjust our viewing as things change, never forgetting we can always go read a book or take a walk instead.

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I have used Tunnelbear though not recently. Wondering if speed is better with a VPN because I have had some stuttering when I stream it to my television.

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    Tunnel Bear is a VPN. We have so much buffering at our rural US home and the internet service is so much better in the house we were in overseas it was actually better.
    I believe any VPN slows things down because the transmission has to bounced about from server to server more than just a straight shot.

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The UK Who Do You Think You Are has a YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAOxTeGCCxiZTZRM8eyClCA
Really no need to go to all the trouble of a VPN…

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Not only is the UK series on YouTube, so are episodes from Australia and South Africa. Even if you don’t know the featured person, they are interesting. Each country has a different take on the program.

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Does any one know if this will work to watch Canadian sports on TSN.com? Every year I try to watch the Canadian curling championships and it won’t let me watch from the US

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    The only VPN I’ve used is Tunnel Bear (it’s kind of VPN for idiots, really). It has a Canadian setting and I’ve watched Canadian internet-available telly on it.
    I live in hopes of finding the last season of DaVinci’s Inquest on some airwaves, somewhere, some day.

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Thanks for your answer. I put Tunnel Bear on my desktop computer and watched a show I was interested in. Great. No buffering issue. Then tried on my Ipad to test it out and BBC wouldn’t do anything. Any ideas on why the Ipad won’t work. I don’t want to upgrade if the Ipad won’t play. BBC is my interest.

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    I’d go to the Tunnel Bear site and look at their faqs. If you don’t get an answer from that, contact them directly. I don’t know anything about iPads, other than they cost the earth and people love them.

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