How to Expand Streaming Watchlist in Your Current Location
It is not uncommon for streaming sites to limit, based on geographical location, access to the content their subscribers can search and watch. Usually, their respective streaming applications are unavailable for download on either Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Users who attempt to download the apps encounter this error message: “This item isn’t available in your country.” Regardless of which device you are using, this geo-blocking can be frustrating. But you may not know that you can bypass these restrictions and expand your streaming watchlist. This article explains how.
What is Geo-restriction
Also known as geo-blocking, geo-restriction refers to the practice of using geographical boundaries as the basis for preventing users from accessing a website. As a result, residents living in country A that has not been geo-blocked, for example, get to readily and seamlessly access the website’s content, while people from country B, which has been geo-blocked, cannot.
Geo-restriction can be frustrating on many levels. For one, it may feel discriminatory, especially because it is based on aspects such as citizenship or a person’s place of residence. Secondly, tourists, who are paying subscribers, may feel shortchanged if they cannot access their streaming library whenever they visit a different country. Thirdly, geo-restriction also impacts businesses in the sense that it prevents ad verification and cross-border market research.
Many websites practice geo-blocking. From e-commerce sites and company websites to streaming platforms.
Geo-restriction by Streaming Platforms
Many streaming platforms do not own the rights to the copyrighted shows and movies in their respective catalogs. Instead, they license the content from studios, and, in some cases, these licenses do not have a global reach.
This practice is primarily due to various reasons, chief among them the cost factor – it is cheaper to acquire a license that covers a smaller jurisdiction than to pay for a worldwide license. Secondly, the expected viewership shapes the licensing decision, given that some shows are only bound to be popular in specific jurisdictions. The third reason, competition, is based on the fact that there are multiple streaming platforms. For instance, one platform may acquire a license that covers the North American region. At the same time, another may purchase a license to the same show but with the authorization to show the content in a different region, say, Europe or Asia.
If the license allows a streaming platform to show a movie to US-based subscribers only, for example, it goes without saying then that only people within the US borders can view the movie. Residents/citizens of other countries cannot view this content unless they use other technologies, such as a US proxy, that enable them to bypass the geo-restriction and expand their streaming watchlist.
How to Bypass Geo-blocking
You can expand your streaming watchlist in your current location by simply changing your location virtually. To achieve this, you can use:
- Virtual private network (VPN)
- Proxy server.
Virtual Private Network
As the name suggests, a VPN simply creates a virtual private network even when you use a public or shared network. This way, it guarantees security. At its core, a VPN creates a secure tunnel between your computer and an exit node (server) located in a different country. Next, it encrypts all the data that passes through the tunnel, adding another layer of security.
But what sets the VPN apart and makes it particularly ideal for bypassing geo-restrictions is the fact that it hides your real IP address – your connection to the internet acquires a new IP address associated with the exit node. And, by extension, this setup changes your location, with your connection acquiring the exit server’s location. Thus, if you choose a US-based server, you can access content that was otherwise only accessible to US citizens. What’s more, you can select a city-specific server; that is, you can pick a New York or Los Angeles-based server.
Also referred to as a proxy, a proxy server is an intermediary – software or hardware – that routes all internet traffic from a web browser to a webserver and vice versa. By intercepting requests from a browser, the proxy hides your real IP address and, in its place, assigns a new unique IP address. This way, the proxy disguises your online identity, including your location. And it is thanks to the new IP address that you can access otherwise geo-blocked content.
For instance, a US proxy will assign you a US-based IP address. This means that a streaming platform’s server identifies your requests as originating from a US citizen. It will, therefore, avail content that would otherwise only be viewed by residents within the US borders. Here’s a great blog article if you want to read more on the topic.
Though streaming platforms are notorious for practicing geo-restrictions, you can easily bypass such limitations using proxies or VPNs. For example, if you want to access US-only content, you can use a US proxy or select a US-based VPN server.