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Avoid geoblocking - what you need to know

Avoid geoblocking - all that you need to know in order to succeed. Geographic locks are annoying and you may have already encountered them. If you want to stream a certain program, you may have already seen an error message of this type: This content is not available in your region. This is also called a regional block, but you can get around geoblocking by using a good VPN like NordVPN*. With the VPN, you virtually move to another country, ideally to the location where the content you want is available.

Let's take a closer look at the issue of bid blocking, because there are several options for it as well. One thing is clear, though - the app, streaming provider, website or service must think that you are in a location where the content can be sent.

What is geoblocking anyway?

Before we get into how to unblock geographically blocked content, we should first clarify the term geoblocking.

Streaming providers are allowed to broadcast certain shows, movies and TV series only in certain regions or countries. They acquire a license and then have to make sure that not everyone with an Internet connection can access it.

Based on your IP address, the streaming portals recognize where you are at the moment. Let's say you are abroad and want to stream ZDF live, but the show may only be shown in Germany. The ZDF streaming portal recognizes that you are not in Germany and informs you about it.

But with a VPN you can virtually move to another country. If I now connect to a server in Germany, all my Internet traffic is redirected via this server. For the streaming providers, it now looks as if I am in Germany. The regional blocking is lifted. However, bypassing geoblocking only works with the best VPNs that regularly swap their IP addresses. The streaming providers are on their toes and regularly block servers that have been exposed as VPNs.

Avoid geoblocking - How-to: It is easy with the right VPN

Avoid geoblocking: Not all VPNs can bypass geoblocking - only the best ones are able to do so permanently:

Subscribe to one of the best VPNs on the market

You need a VPN that specializes in geoblocking. NordVPN* and or CyberGhost both work great. You can use them to unblock live sporting events, streaming providers like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and also ARD Mediathek as well as ZDF, SRF and ServusTV.

Install the app or client

The VPNs presented here support the most popular operating systems and can be installed on a router. You can find apps for Android, iOS, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Windows, macOS and Linux as well. There are browser extensions and with Smart DNS or a router you can also bypass geoblocking on your game console (Xbox, Playstation) as well as your smart TV.

Connect to a server in a country where you want to avoid geoblocking

Now you connect to a country from which you want to watch content with regional blocking. For example, take Switzerland for SRF, Austria for ServusTV, UK for BBC iPlayer, USA for Netflix US and Germany for ARD and ZDF. With this, you change your IP address.

Open the streaming portal that shows your program

After changing your IP address, open the streaming app or website of the provider you want to unblock. With a good VPN, the geoblocking message will now be gone.

Done! Have fun!

You're already done - it's that simple. Bypassing geoblocking is a breeze with the right VPN.

Important: Bypassing geographical barriers is in most cases against the terms of use of the streaming providers. If you do not have to register and use a VPN, you are anonymous. If paid streaming providers detect that you are using a VPN, you will actually only receive a message that you should deactivate your VPN or proxy.

In which cases do you want to avoid geoblocking?

It may happen that certain content is only available in certain regions. You can only watch Tatort from Switzerland or Austria in Germany, Austria or Switzerland. If you are in another country, you have to use a VPN to bypass the geo-blocking so that you can access the shows.

Live sports events are actually subject to regional blocking in all cases. In some countries, sports events are broadcast for free, while in others you have to pay for them. In Germany, you can only watch all Formula 1 races for a fee. However, you can enjoy all races for free via SRF (Switzerland) or ServusTV (Austria). With a good VPN, you can switch countries virtually for the duration of the Grand Prix and watch the spectacle for free.

Netflix USA offers by far the largest library of movies, TV series and so on. If you want to access the huge archive, you need a good VPN with servers in the USA. You may also want to watch a certain movie or TV series that is only available in a completely different country. Again, you'll need to bypass geoblocking in order to watch.

Internet censorship is also geographic blocking in a way. Here, certain content is blocked in one country. This can be social media, websites, apps and so on. If you travel to a country with strong censorship, you can use the Internet freely and as usual with a VPN.

Avoid geoblocking: Different options to unblock live events, movies and TV series

There are several ways to unblock geoblocking. The most popular option is a VPN. Usually, you have an app or client installed and then you can conveniently connect to a server in your country of choice. This way, you practically assume the IP address of the connected server and the website, streaming apps and so on think that you are in another country. Thus, you have beaten geoblocking and you can watch what you want.

Use a proxy and avoid geoblocking

However, there are other popular ways how you can bypass geoblocking. The use of a proxy server is also quite popular. This is quite similar to a Virtual Private Network. However, some software allows you to specify whether you want to use a proxy or not. In this case, only the internet traffic of this app goes through the proxy server or the other IP. The best VPNs also have browser extensions for all popular browsers - Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Vivaldi and Brave. These extensions, strictly speaking, connect you to a proxy.

A proxy can even be faster than a VPN because the traffic is not encrypted. However, when using a proxy or the example just shown, you need to keep in mind that here only the browser's traffic takes on a different IP address.

Smart DNS - for devices without native app

The so-called Smart DNS was developed for devices on which no native client or special app can be installed. Examples at this point are your Playstation, your Xbox or even certain smart TVs. All top VPNs here offer this feature.

With a smart TV, you whitelist your real IP address and then you get assigned special DNS servers. You then enter these DNS servers in the network settings of your devices.

At this point, however, you have to keep in mind that Smart DNS is often only available for relatively few countries. It is quite possible that Smart DNS does not work for your desired streaming service - all good VPNs point this out.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of Smart DNS because I prefer to use a VPN router. A VPN router has the advantage that you can connect all WLAN-enabled devices with it and don't have to configure them individually. It also works with devices where you can't modify the DNS settings. A popular example at this point is a Chromecast.

Bypassing geoblocking does not work - a few possible solutions

There are several reasons why bypassing geoblocking doesn't work or why streaming providers expose you. VPN provider, proxy, your device, Smart DNS, network issues are all potential sources of error. Let's take a closer look at some of the problem areas.

The provider has recognized the server IP address as a VPN

There is a constant race between streaming providers and VPN providers. Streaming providers try to expose IP addresses as VPNs and VPN providers try to unblock geoblocking.

That's why it happens even with the best VPNs that one server is unmasked. However, the best VPNs usually operate multiple servers in each country. In this case, you simply connect to another server and the problem should be solved.

Try the Proxy - Browser Extension

I mentioned earlier that there are several ways you can use to get around geoblocking. The browser extensions of the best VPNs are basically a proxy.

You can find the extensions for all popular browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Vivaldi, and Brave. The software is installed in a few clicks and you can try to bypass the geographical block with a proxy.

Install the mobile app

If you want to stream on a tablet or cell phone with Android or iOS, check if the provider offers a dedicated mobile app. This usually makes streaming on mobile devices work much better.

In this case, you've actually beaten the region lock, but the mobile browser is giving you problems. The mobile app may solve that.

The browser can be a problem

The browser can be a problem not only on the cell phone or tablet, but also on the desktop - that is, on Windows, macOS and Linux.

Some streaming providers do not work well with various browsers. Just switch internet browsers and try again. Chrome is a safe bet in most cases.

Take another VPN protocol

Under certain circumstances, the VPN protocol you have set is a problem. If you do not succeed in bypassing geo-blocking, then try a different VPN protocol.

WireGuard is now the standard for most VPN providers. However, most of them also offer the proven OpenVPN. It is a bit slower, but can be camouflaged better. With the best providers, OpenVPN is also more than fast enough to stream in Ultra HD.

Support may be able to help

If a streaming platform absolutely cannot be unblocked, then ask support what you can do. The best VPNs have a list of servers that are particularly suitable for certain streaming platforms. They might also advise you to get a dedicated IP address that only you use for the moment. Then it is much more difficult for the streaming providers to recognize that it is a VPN - bypassing geoblocking is then relatively easy.

Avoid geoblocking - these are the best VPNs

As a rule of thumb, the larger the provider's server network, the better it usually is for bypassing geographic locks. Many servers in one country means more IP addresses, less data congestion, and faster streaming speeds.

For streaming in Ultra HD or 4K, you'll need about 25 Mbps. If your base speed is high enough, all VPNs on this list will deliver sufficiently high speeds. For HD streaming, you need about 5 MBit/s.

You won't go wrong with NordVPN and or CyberGhost. NordVPN is probably the best universal VPN and it also offers the great vLAN feature Meshnet. There are apps for all popular operating systems - Android, Windows, iOS, macOS and Linux. You're also allowed to use it on routers, and with it you can bypass geoblocking with your Playstation, Xbox, or smart TV. One router counts as one connection, otherwise you can connect up to six devices simultaneously.

or CyberGhost is a cheaper alternative and the special thing about this VPN is that you are allowed to connect an infinite number of devices. The excellent VPN offers apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS.

By the way, you can test both providers risk-free because there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. There are no limits on functions and data volume during the test phase. If you ask for a refund, you will get your money back within a few days.

Avoid geoblocking: FAQ about bypassing geoblocking

Avoiding geoblocking is quite a comprehensive topic. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions that may help you.

What is geoblocking?

The technology is also known as regional blocking or geographic blocking. Most streaming providers acquire licenses to broadcast shows in certain regions. If you are not from the right country, the content will be blocked for you - this is geoblocking.
Your IP address can be used to determine where you are. You can avoid geoblocking if you use the right VPN, like NordVPN or or CyberGhost. Then you basically change your IP address and temporarily move virtually. Only the best VPNs are able to bypass region blocking permanently.

How can I get around geoblocking?

The best option is a good VPN, such as NordVPN. You can also bypass regional blocking with a proxy or Smart DNS, but a Virtual Private Network usually works best.

Can I use a free VPN for geoblocking?

Possible, but rather unlikely. You might be able to bypass geoblocking, but then have to deal with the limitations of free VPNs. Many offer only a few MBytes of data per day and thus streaming is only for a short time. If you want to test, it's best to use a VPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Is it legal to bypass geoblocking?

This is a difficult, but of course legitimate question. In some countries, VPNs are prohibited. In most countries, however, they are allowed and bypassing geoblocking is then possible, but most likely violates the terms of use of the individual streaming providers.
It's best to find out for yourself about the laws in your country and what the streaming provider allows and doesn't allow. It is your responsibility to abide by the laws.

What can I do if circumventing geoblocking does not work?

There are several starting points. You can try the browser extensions, change the VPN protocol or the server, contact support and so on. Unfortunately, this question cannot be answered across the board, as not only the VPN, but also your device can be to blame. However, in this post you will find some tips and tricks that you can try if bypassing geoblocking just won't work.

By: Michael Miller
Michael is the CEO of VPN Online, one of the fastest-growing media companies in the cyber-security space. VPN Online was started in 2019 after Michael consulted with many Fortune 500 companies and saw the lack of understanding about cybersecurity many of their employees had.