The streaming video revolution has well and truly arrived in Australia – but did you know that there’s a whole world of extra movies and TV shows out there that you can access?
The full US Netflix library is massive, with thousands more titles than the Australian version. And there’s other services around the world that Australians don’t know about – the wonderful BBC iPlayer in the UK (it’s the BBC’s HD-enabled version of ABC iView), paid services like up-to-the-minute TV site Hulu, Amazon’s Instant Video or HBO’s new streaming service. Normally, all of these sites and services are blocked to Australians – but with the set-and-forget simplicity of UnblockUS, you get access to all of them, seamlessly and automatically.
The (geo) Block
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (which we don’t recommend!) you’ll have heard about the phenomenal uptake of Netflix in Australia since its launch, an estimated two million Australians discovering the joy of being able to watch what they want, when they want, free from ads and on-screen distractions. But as fantastic as Netflix is, there’s a big difference between the movies and TV shows available to Netflix users in Australia compared to those in other countries around the world.
No two Netflix countries have the same library of movies and TV to choose from. This is down to the simple issue of who holds the rights to the content in a particular country, and in Australia, those rights are very hotly contested. Aside from the fact that there’s two other streaming services competing for the right to get particular movies and shows on their services, there’s also the juggernauts that are Foxtel and the free-to-air networks, who want to keep as much of the pie for themselves as possible.
And so while, for example, all four seasons of the hit fantasy series Once Upon a Time can be viewed on Netflix in the US as the show starts its fifth season there on free-to-air, here in Australia the deals that networks have made for the show mean it’s not available on Netflix at all. If only there was a way to head over to the US version of Netflix and watch it there! Alas, it’s not that simple. Netflix – and other video streaming services worldwide – use a technology called “geolocation” to work out where your internet connection comes from. When you log into Netflix on your web browser or device, in the background it’s looking at your internet address, working out that you’re in Australia, and giving you the Australian version of Netflix.
Unblock Everything on Netflix, Spotify, Hulu and More. Easy setup, secure servers, faster than VPN. Photo: UnBlock-Us Official Website
However, Netflix is a friendly beast. No matter what country you visit, you can log into your account and you’ll get the local Netflix for that country – your Netflix account is a global thing. So if Netflix looks at your internet address when you log in and sees that you’re in the USA, you will get the US version of Netflix, which contains literally thousands of TV shows and movies that aren’t available on the local version. And this is where UnblockUS comes in.
You may have heard talk in the media about “VPNs” in relation to accessing geo-blocked content. A VPN redirects your internet – all of it – to another country, which lets you appear to web sites and services as though you’re actually there. However, VPNs have two disadvantages when it comes to video streaming services like Netflix – they can be costly, and they can be slow. That HD movie you want to watch might have to travel a long and complicated path to get to your home via a VPN, and if that slows things down too much, you may not be able to get HD at all – or even smooth streaming without constant buffering.
How it works
Works on your your smart TV and streaming boxes. Photo: UnBlock-Us Official Website
UnblockUS isn’t a VPN – it’s what is known as a “smart DNS” service, and it’s incredibly clever yet wonderfully simple. What it does is simply change your internet address when you log-in to Netflix or other streaming services, but just for the stage where Netflix works out which country you’re in. “I’m in the USA” it tells Netflix, which will then let you access the US Netflix instead – and from then on, everything works as normal. When you choose a show and start watching, you are connected directly to Netflix in the country you’ve chosen, and you can start exploring your way through a whole new world of content.
UnblockUS is quick and simple to set up – all you need to do is change the “DNS” setting on the devices you want to unblock to custom addresses UnblockUS provides. It might sound complicated, but it’s really not – and to make sure it’s nice and easy for all, they provide a step-by-step guide for all popular devices, from game consoles to smart TVs to PCs – on their web site. Advanced users can even make the settings change in their modem/router to unblock their entire home network.
Once this is done, you can pop onto the UnblockUS site and quite literally pick which country you want your Netflix to come from. It’s that painless and simple. Just choose your country, restart your device or app, and you’re good to go. Of course, Australia is an option there as well for when you want to switch back to the local Netflix for the unique content available here (yes, we do have our own exclusives!) The quality of the stream you get will depend on the country you choose and how fast your ISP’s connections are to it; in our testing, the USA was absolutely fine, while the UK and Europe could occasionally drop back to lower video quality, though this was extremely rare.
You may be asking, though, is this actually legal? From an Australian legal point of view, the answer is yes – indeed, the ACCC even recommended a few years ago that Australians should use “geo-unblocking” to access content from overseas that would otherwise be blocked because of where we live. As for Netflix, well, it is technically in violation of their terms and conditions. However, the company has made it pretty clear on many occasions that they don’t punish people for “country-hopping”.
It’s honestly eye-opening how much new content is opened up by breaking down those geoblocking walls, and UnblockUS is an easy, reliable and very affordable solution, highly recommended for everyone who loves their Netflix and is hungry for more.