If you’re like me, you have a handful of shows you watch religiously. Right now I’m loving The Americans, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, The Voice and more. If you’re not home when your shows air, DVR is your best friend. Or maybe you’re more of a Netflix buff. But when you move outside the US, popular shows on regular TV abroad are either seasons behind, dubbed or not available at all. You’ve also figured out that network websites don’t give you access to shows from outside the country and your precious Hulu and Netflix accounts won’t work with a foreign IP address. So what’s an expat to do?
How to watch TV shows online abroad
Download them or stream them from websites online
Note: Use this method at your own risk. You open your computer up to viruses and depending on where you live, it may not be legal to download or stream shows and movies.
This sounds easy enough, right? Just find a site that will stream the show or allow you to download it and voilà. But not so fast. Sites come and go (my fave ch131 is no more!), don’t always have the show or episode you want, and mislabel movies so you think you’re getting Happy Feet and instead you’re getting an adult movie and maybe even a computer virus or two. But all that aside, if you know which sites to use, you can reliably find what you’re looking for with minimal effort.
Here are some of my go-to websites for downloading and streaming TV shows and movies when you live abroad.
(To err on the safe side, I’d advise you not to use any of these sites unless you have an anti-virus program on your computer.)
The bad parts:
- Sometimes the picture quality won’t be great. Pixelated, blurry, too dark, etc. are all issues that come with using unauthorized streaming/download sites.
- Sometimes it takes a bit of effort to find a good quality version of the show you want. You have to do a lot of clicking around on various sites.
Use a VPN
Most expats will find that they can’t access the shows they want via the regular channels due to their physical location. Ever get a message on a video clip that says the video is not authorized in your country? I have and it stinks. Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, television networks’ sites and more are sites that work great if you’re in the United States and the United Kingdom, but if you have a French IP address like me? Forget it. You’ll run into the same issue with BBC Player, which is unique to the United Kingdom.
So what’s an expat to do? Set up a personal VPN.
There are different kinds of VPNs, but simply put in this case, a VPN, or virtual private network, is going to give me a new IP address and tell these blocked sites that I’m not really abroad. This new IP address can be from other countries, which will get past the geo-restriction that is in place with the websites I pointed out above. With a VPN, you can access the official channels and watch the show or movie the same way you would at home — no sketchy downloads or viruses to worry about. A VPN isn’t free but the small fee is worth the hassle-free TV/moving watching experience.
The Best VPN for France
If you’re looking for the best VPN for France, these guys should do the trick:
- HideMyAss: HideMyAss is one of the best VPN companies to choose from, and in France alone, they have 28 servers that include access to 3,900 IP addresses. Their website says they offer a 30-day money back guarantee, so you don’t have anything to lose.
- Private Internet Access: In France, Private Internet Access offers 30 servers for users to choose from. One of the benefits of Private Internet Access is that they accept several different forms of payment, including Bitcoin. PIA is based in the United States and is a smaller company, but they are constantly expanding their server offerings and are worth a look.
- Astrill: The Astrill VPN offers over 1,400 IP addresses and they have several packages depending on your needs, making this one of the most competitive VPNs to choose from if you’re looking for a deal.
- Hidester Web Proxy: It’s free, 100% anonymous and ad free. Hidester Web Proxy is fast with 2 servers, one in the USA and one in Germany.
If you maintain a residence in your home country or have a generous friend or family member with a TV, Slingbox might be the perfect option for you. Basically you connect the Slingbox to your TV at home (or at your friend’s house) and watch the programming like you’re there and can even access your DVRd programs.
Their site explains: “As a Slingbox owner, you can watch whatever is on your TV at home… wherever you are. You’re not limited to only watching with the United States, as you often are with expensive Internet TV services… But with a Slingbox, you can watch your TV just like you’re sitting in front of it… no matter where in the world you are.”
“Just launch SlingPlayer with your Mac OS X computer, Windows computer, iPhone/iPod touch, iPad, Android phone, Android tablet, or Windows Phone. Then connect to your Slingbox, and watch any of the channels that you can watch at home. If your Slingbox is connected to a set-top box that is a DVR, then you can even watch your recorded programs … even program your DVR.”
Sweet, eh? The most cost effective Slingbox will run you $150.
How do you watch TV shows and movies online from abroad?