A weird but necessary skill that I have picked up from living all over the world is the ability to watch nearly anything I want with the help of a VPN.
I use my VPN to watch shows and events in the U.S. when I am outside of the country. I like to be able to watch all the offerings on American Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc. so that I can keep up with what’s popular at home and feel connected to friends, family, and conversations in my social feed. Being able to watch U.S. tv from anywhere sometimes helps cure homesickness, too.
So, how do I do it? It’s simple.
Get a VPN
If you are going to be out of the U.S. for a long time, whether for a short vacation or a long work assignment/posting, I recommend investing in a VPN.
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a tool that lets it look like your computer or device is in a different location than where it really is.
There are many companies that offer free VPN services. But free VPN can be loaded with malware or privacy issues. Plus, I’ve found that the free ones don’t work very well.
I have used a lot of VPNs over the years and none have worked as well as Express VPN. Express VPN has an app in the Apple App Store that you can use for watching TV and films on your phone or iPad. They also have an app on Amazon’s Firestick. The app makes it easy to connect to a U.S. location so you can watch content from U.S-based streaming services.
How To Watch TV Shows and Films With a VPN
I mentioned above that I use Amazon’s Firestick for watching programs. I use this for most of my TV and film viewing. (Though occasionally I will watch something on my MacBook or iPad.)
Firestick seems to work better for watching shows with a VPN (compared to Apple TV, Smart TV apps, et al). Plus it’s easier. Just download the Express VPN app on Firestick, set the VPN location, and then choose the streaming service you want to watch. If it doesn’t work right away, you may need to clear your cache or restart your Firestick.
Make sure that the VPN location should be compatible with the service or show you want to watch. So, if you want to watch U.S. tv, set the VPN to a server location in the U.S. You can choose from many different U.S.-based servers, from LA to DC.
This post is not about how to watch things for free. Rather it is to help you use the streaming services to which you or your friends or family members subscribe.
I pay for my accounts to Netflix, Hulu, etc. And I feel like I should be able to use them wherever I want, even when I am outside of their viewable region.
Netflix has branches all over the world. So if you want to see what they are showing on U.S. Netflix, all you need is your own Netflix account and a VPN. First, set the VPN to a U.S. location. Then click on the Netflix app. Netflix will think you are in the U.S. and will give you the appropriate menu. As mentioned above, if it doesn’t work right away, you may need to clear your cache and/or restart your Firestick.
Please note: This method of using a VPN with a Firestick worked for me at the time of this writing. But be aware that streaming services are constantly trying to crack down on this kind of user behavior. At the same time, VPN services are also trying to stay one step ahead of the streamers.
Why take this advice from me? When I’m not writing blog posts, I am an IT help desk professional, my family’s personal technician, and an all-around gadget geek. 🙂
If you’re trying to figure out how to watch a certain U.S. program or network that is not listed above, let me know. I can probably give you pointers. And it will be something else I can add to the list to help others.