All you need to know to start watching American TV outside the US right away.

 

A Quick Guide to US TV in France & Abroad

 
There are several options for watching American TV in France and abroad, all with advantages and shortcomings… reading this guide will certainly help you find the right solution to fit your needs!
You will soon be watching again your favorite American TV Series.

1. Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network)

Many websites in the US allow watching Live TV and on-demand shows at no cost. The only problem is that if you travel or decide to live abroad for a while you will find that access to the programming is impossible as they detect that your computer is located outside the USA and will block your viewing. However there is a way to work around this. One way to do is to use a VPN (Virtual Private network), This technology will actually replace your french IP address by the one of the server in the US to which you connect and your viewing is not blocked because they will think you are a U.S. computer. There are plenty of VPN providers on the web, just google "US VPN" and you will be amaized by the choice you have. However not all of them will do the job, VPNs are permanently tracked down by the big video streaming companies like Netflix and their IP addresses are being banned. This is a kind of a Tom & Jerry game pushing VPN providers to change constantly servers and ranges of IP addresses which are not yet known to the streaming sites...

The big video streaming companies like Netflix are regularly buying and updating databases with all possible IP addresses of data centers located in the United States. The chance that a VPN server is located in a data center is almost 99% which makes blocking a VPN quite easy. Therefore don't be surprised that many VPNs are now on clearance sale and you can obtain a "lifetime licence"  for just 30 - 40 USD!  see list of VPN bargains here .

Well, it seems that the good days for VPNs (as TV unlockers) are over.


Two VPN sites we recommend are Nord VPN and Express VPN as they are super easy to set up, no need to be a computer geek to do it and support is relatively good. Once that’s done, you can freely watch ABC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, ABC Family, MTV, Showtime, Comedy Central, HBO, PBS, Lifetime, Food Network, whenever you feel like it.


Here is what you should consider if you go for a VPN solution:

- It could be a  dissapointment for you if you pre-pay for one, two or a 3 year plan and have the service blocked within few weeks time when your trial period is over with no chance for refund. Eventually your service provider will find a solution untill this happens again. You will certainly get tired soon. It is true that long term pre-paid subscription plans are attractive in price but better pay monthly and quit if service becomes blocked.
- VPNs reduce significantly download speed due to encryption of the signal.
- Your traffic can be monitored by the service provider and logs saved by third parties. Traffic is encrypted between your computer and the vpn server but remains in the clear for the service provider.

While talking about VPNs, I should mention that Hola.org is a VPN service quite different from all others and should be described separately. It uses an unique Peer-to-peer technology and the IP address will change (within a geographical country) multiple times per hour, therefore rendering the task of detection and banning of the  IP address very difficult. When signing up to the free version of Hola you actually agree to become a "peer" and share your own internet bandwith with other users.
Hola provides 99% private residential IP addresses contrary to standard VPNs which supply IPs of well known data centers. This will do perfectly the job but represents a major security risk for you as the door remains open to crooks and cyber criminals who may misuse YOUR own IP address to perform unlawful tasks on the web! You have been warned, avoid this kind of peer-to-peer VPNs for a piece of mind or use them at your own risk. You get Hola for free but actually your computer becomes a relay for other users. There is nothing free, you must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. Hola re-sells the bandwith of its users and this is how this Israeli based company makes money.

Hola also offers a paid VPN version under a different brand name Luminati VPN. If you get it your VPN will be signed with a US residential IP address and you won't  be sharing your internet bandwith with others.


3. Using a VET (Virtual Encrypted Tunnel)

Another way to access US Live TV and on-demand shows consists of installing a small box in your US home or office -  a VET server . This is certainly the most advanced and most reliable solution to watch American TV abroad and not at last it is totally free to operate, no monthly fees! The technology is very close to a VPN with the big difference that you are in full control of the traffic. With standard VPNs you actually rent a server somewhere in the US with all the shortcomings involved and already discussed above.
What makes the VET different is that you install a device (a VET server) at your US home or somewhere you have access to a good speed internet (preferably a fiber residential connexion). These days more and more home internet providers in the US cover a good upload speed so why not profit from something you are already paying for?

Here is what you should consider if you go for a VET solution:
- It is free of charge to use, no montly fees, you buy material only.
- On the reception site a standard internet download speed of 4-5 Mb/sec is all you need and you can use either a VET pre-programmed router a VET pre-programmed router paired to a TV receiver such as Roku, Amazon Firestick or any other US streaming TV device or smart TV or set up the connection directly on your laptop or tablet using the built-in "vpn" settings. A VET connection will work anywhere in the World even in China behind the Big Firewall.
- The IP address cannot be banned as it is identical to your US Home IP address. Netflix or Hulu etc does not block residential IP addresses.
- Traffic cannot be monitored by third parties, this is actually an encrypted extention of your home network to another location and is the most secure solution.

4. Using a Smart DNS service


This is a technology very different from VPNs and VET. It allows you to unlock many streaming TV sites in the USA making them think that your computer is located in the US. The internet speed is much faster compared  to a VPN because of the fact  that only the signiture of the connexion is replaced by a US one and the entire video traffic remains direct between your computer and the US video streaming website without transiting an intermediate (vpn) server.  A smart DNS service allows you to unlock simultaneously sites  from  different geographical locations (just the opposite to a VPN which is dedicated to only ONE country at a time. For example you can unlock simultaneously websites in the US, UK and Australia without the need of switching servers....  We have tested different services and the most reliable to recommend is smartdnsproxy.com
which provides a 14 day trial period, no credit card details needed.


Here is what you should consider if you go for a smart DNS solution:


- It is a paid service, subscription is required.
- all your internet requests are forwarded for resolving to the server of your smart DNS provider.
- reliability on a long term is good so signing up to an annual plan is not risky .

- speed is much better than a VPN, your connexion will be signed by a private, residential US IP and not by one belonging to a data center. This is a garantee for a long term stable service.

- TV streaming demands are automatically routed through your smart DNS provider,  the rest of the internet
traffic is routed locally. This means that you don't need to turn on and off the connexion to the server. You can leave the connexion as it is and forget about it. This is not the case with classic VPNs where ALL traffic goes through the VPN server, therefore you must manually turn on and off the application.

5. Using a pre-programmed home router.

Using a pre-programmed home router is a big advantage as all you need to do is to take it out of the box and connect it to your home internet box using an Ethernet cable. You are done! It will now beam US Wifi in your home and you are ready to start channel surfing. The home router can be pre-loaded with either a VPN, VET or a Smart DNS service.
The strong points are:
- you can connect multiple users within the household simultaneously.
- connect wirelessly tablets etc but also Ethernet RJ-45 jacks are available.

So You could be watching a football game, while other members of the family could access other programs of interest. You better leave programming to specialized businesses unless you know what you are doing.

6. Using a Slingbox

This is a great solution for watching US TV abroad as long as you have a family or  someone in the States who is willing to let you install the Slingbox® at their home and connect to their internet router. This device takes the video signal from any cable, satellite or TV box and sends it to you via the Internet. You can then connect from anywhere in the world and enjoy US TV as if you were at home. Changing channels from distance becomes possible through a virtual remote controller in the Slink application or eventually you can invest in a sling catcher box with its own physical remote handset. Of course the signal can be routed via an HDMI cable to a big TV screen or you can simply watch it on your computer or tablet. Applications for Windows, Android and iOS are available.
The Slingbox must be paired to a cable, satellite or any other US TV box and you better choose one with a DVR (digital video recorder) so you can record shows and watch them later at a convenient for you time. Many TV companies in the US offer a second, third etc cable or satellite box for viewing in different rooms. The home where you will install the slingbox sender must have an extra (unused) TV receiver to which you can connect and also sufficient internet connection so the box can send the video over internet in good HD quality. After multiple tests I found out that an upload speed (not download speed!) of at least 4 Mb/sec will allow stable transmission in 1080i HD resolution. You may use the measuring tool at the bottom of this page to ferify the speed of your network. Have in mind that a Wifi connexion will normally show a reduced result, only ethernet cable connection can show you real speeds!

Here is what you should consider if you go for the Slingbox:

– It could be difficult to install yourself if you are not very computer minded. You may need some external technical help specially for the part "opening firewall port 5001" This port must be open on the sender's
router for the SlingBox to work. Once correctly installed you won't need to tune it again. A small infrared transmitter mouse must be sticked to the front of the Cable TV box so you can correctly change
TV channels and fully control it from distance. Maybe an exception is the Dish network HD receiver which has this function built-in.


5. The AFN (Armed Forces Network)

If you are a member of the U.S. armed forces, they have a satellite service, the Armed Forces Network (AFN) which allows them to receive  American TV abroad. However, only active or retired members of the armed forces can get the special decoder that allows them to view the channels.
The signal is received in Europe through the Eutelsat 9° East satellite and an 80 cm dish is required for France, Germany, Spain or throughout Europe. If you are a member of the U.S. military bases in Germany you also have the choice of a "dish-free" Broadband TV option. You can use a small HD Roku receiver connected to your big TV screen and linked to the TeleUp Military Plan or you can alternatively watch on android tablets or Amazon Firestick through an application on Amazon app store. I would like to precise that while the satellite AFN service can be received throughout Europe the Broadband TeleUp service can only be viewed in the US military bases in Germany.

6. Fox News and other News channels
.

Did you know that Fox News allows watching Live TV and On demand abroad? However one condition apply: You must have a valid subscription to any cable or satellite operator in the United States and possess the login / password to the web account. Simply visit foxnews.com/go and press "watch now"
In case you don't have a cable or satellite subscription in the US few other independent websites such as streamfare or livenewsnow will give you access to Live news channels and you can find on the list CNN US, MSBC, CNBS and others.

7. Watching American Sports in Paris Pubs.


For watching college football American Sports games and other sports, you can usually find a “Sports Bar” in Paris that is broadcasting the game. There is actually a website called Allomatch (in French only) that lets you find out what Sports Bar will be showing what game and when.


8. Broadband TV receiver boxes.     Some legal TV boxes for US TV do exist allowing you to watch a significant number of US TV channels "dish-free" via internet. The receiver connects directly to your home router without the need of VPN and also to your TV screen via an HDMI cable. Channel list includes:  It is actually quite easy to install yourself and you have a web portal where you pay and control your subscription. See more details here.