More often than not, frequent Internet users have encountered geo-restrictions while trying to watch certain streaming channel online. An error appears informing you that access has been restricted based on your current geographical location. I’ve had the misfortune of encountering such a situation, so I sought out to find alternatives that could allow me to hide my IP address or mask my online location. After doing so, I created the following guide to help fellow users discover tips and tricks to unblock georestricted content. You can use these tricks to bypass geo-blocks and stream content from UK, USA, Canada, Australia or anywhere else.
Avoid Geo-Restrictions & Unblock GeoBlocked Content
Unblocking Geo-Restricted Channels: Two Alternatives
From what I found out, there are two reliable options at your disposal: a VPN or a Smart DNS proxy. I’ll discuss their advantages and disadvantages later on.
For those still in doubt over the need to bypass regional restrictions, here’s a list of channels that are known to be geo-restricted.
- Adult Swim
- BeIN Sports
- Amazon Instant Video,
- Animal Planet
- BBC iPlayer
- Cartoon Network
- Comedy Central
- Crunchy Roll
- The CW
- Channel 5 (my5)
- Disney Channel
- Food Network
- FX Now
- History Channel
- ITV Hub
- National Geographic
- NBA League Pass
- NFL GamePass
- Now TV
- Sky Italia
- Sky Go UK
- Star Sports
- SVT Play
- Ten Sports
- USA Network (USA Now)
- WWE Network
Using VPN to Unblock Geo-Restricted Channels
Here’s what you need to know:
- By using VPN, your location and online IP will change for all sites and services you visit online.
- All your traffic is encrypted and appears from one chosen location. This means you are able to unblock geo-blocked channels for all sites in a specific country like UK or USA.
- Local sites that can identify your location will break since you’ll appear to be visiting from another country due to the remote VPN server.
- VPN doesn’t work on all devices, unless supported by your router. Luckily, the provider I use offers easy apps to use for Windows, Android, iPhone, iPad and Mac. It is unlikely that your gaming consoles and other streaming devices are compatible. Smart TV and Apple TV are also not supported.
Find below a list of tested VPN providers; assessed based on reliability, speed and quality of support, and number of VPN locations.
Using a Smart DNS Proxy to Bypass Geo-Restrictions
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
- Most devices are supported. These include: Smart TV, Panasonic, PS4/PS3, Android, Windows 8, Apple TV, Roku, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, LG, Xbox 360, Xbox one, OS x, Samsung, WD TV, Sony, Ubuntu and others. See Video and Picture guides for setup here.
- Be sure that the channel or site you wish to unblock is supported by your chosen Smart DNS proxy.
- Smart DNS proxy won’t work for you if your ISP applies transparent proxies or DNS hijacking.
- Your Internet traffic is not anonymous since not all of your online activity is encrypted.
- Your Internet speed does not decrease since not all of your traffic has to be redirected to the remote VPN server.
- You are only required to change the DNS setting on your router. Alternatively, you can change DNS settings on only the streaming device you wish to bypass geographic restrictions on.
After running extensive tests on available Smart DNS providers, I settled on Unlocator. This is because of their growing list of over 220 channels, their free 7-day trial period as well as their unmatched connectivity speeds. My performance review on Unlocator was also able to prove that they have the fastest servers around.
VPN vs Smart DNS Summarized and Explained
Both VPN and Smart DNS remove geo restrictions. However, each method has its pros and cons. Take a look at the main advantages of VPN vs Smart DNS when it comes to bypassing regional restrictions.
|Virtual Country IP. |
|Access All Sites in Geoblocked Country.|
|Unblock Social Networks.|
|Unblock All Netflix Regions|
|Bypass DNS Hijacking.|
|Bypass Transparent Proxies.|
|Data Encryption Protection.|
|No Internet Speed Reduction.|
|Compatible With All Devices.|
|Simultaneous Geo Locations.|
|Retain Local IP Address.|
|Instant Netflix Region Changes.|
Bypassing Geo-Restrictions – VPN or Smart DNS?
Either of the two mentioned solutions will work. If you’re keen to seamlessly stream your most preferred movies/TV shows on BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu, Smart DNS should suffice. If your online privacy matters to you, and it should, then you can use VPN to bypass geo-blocks while protecting your traffic.