Instagram in China? Hulu in France?! Pandora outside of the USA? pffft! If you live in the US, you probably take for granted the fact that you can watch streaming video websites and listen to streaming music websites that many people around the world wish they could access. Here’s why some streaming sites region block their content so you can’t access it internationally outside the original country of origin.
Why are some streaming websites blocked?
There’s no doubt that Hulu is one of the bigger streaming services in the US. Unfortunately, if you travel or move abroad, you can’t watch Hulu.
It makes no difference if you’re a US-based paying customer trying to access Hulu while on vacation. Hulu region blocks anyone and everyone outside of the USA:
But it’s not just Hulu. Pandora, HBO now, and hundreds of more streaming websites based in the USA also block their content from viewers outside the USA.
The same is true of streaming sites in other countries. For instance, you can’t watch BBC iPlayer outside of the UK.
What does region-blocked look like? The dreaded restriction pop-up
If you visit one of these region-restricted websites outside of its region/country of origin, you won’t get a scary notice with a menacing red hand threatening legal action. No one will come knocking down your door and take you away in handcuffs.
You will, however, get an annoying and very frustrating geo-restricted message which looks different depending on which website you are trying to view. Here are a few examples of what you might see from Spotify and Hulu.
Spotify used to be blocked in France but is now available.
Partially blocked website: (country-specific website versions)
Some websites such as Netflix and Cartoon Network aren’t blocked outside of the US/region; however, the version you see in other countries is different.
For instance, in France, where I usually access Netflix, I get the French version. When I return to Canada, I get another version.
The main difference between the American version of Netflix and other country-specific versions of Netflix is selection. There are far fewer movies and TV series available to viewers internationally than the American version of Netflix. Each country is different, but in some cases, it’s as much as 50 to 70 percent less content.
Here’s why you can’t view some streaming websites like Hulu Internationally
The reason why you can’t watch Hulu and certain streaming websites internationally is not that they are cruel. It’s due to licensing laws. By law, companies like Netflix can only stream content your country has a license to. And each country has a different set of content licensing laws. So every time a company such as Netflix wants to license content, they have to do it for each piece of content and each individual country.
Streaming companies such as Hulu have an obligation to stop any user from viewing their content (geoblock you) if they have not negotiated a deal.
In other cases, it might not make sense to license a particular piece of content in another country due to low demand.
Is there a workaround to access blocked US websites like Hulu and is it legal?
There is no law forbidding the use of tools/ software to access region-blocked websites internationally however, they don’t always work.
It used to be that you could use any
If you want to learn more about how to watch region-restricted and blocked video streaming websites abroad, you can read about it here.
Government Censorship Of Internet Sites
It’s worth mentioning, that certain countries censor more than just streaming content providers.
For example, Mainland China drastically censors the internet by blocking access to over 10,000 domains, including Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, and The Wall Street Journal. Porn sites don’t stand a chance in China. Some sites are only partially blocked, such as Wikipedia
[pullquote align=”cen”]North Korea’s DOMESTIC ONLY intranet system called Kwangmyong offers no links to the outside world whatsoever. It only connects cybercafes, libraries, universities and various other institutions with websites and email. [/pullquote]
Then there is North Korea, described as one of the few remaining “internet black holes,” which doesn’t allow its citizens access to the outside world at all. Except for a select few high-ranking government officials and visiting foreigners, all North Koreans have no access to the world wide web.
But it’s not just Mainland China and North Korea that block websites.
- British surfers are banned from viewing over 100 websites, most of which are blocked because they contain or deal with illegal pirating of music and video or copyright and counterfeit sites.
- France is also believed to around 300 sites at the time of this writing. Most are blocked because they relate to child pornography, terrorism, or pirating or copyright issues.
Which streaming video and music sites are region blocked internationally?
I compiled a list of streaming sites which you can’t view outside of the United States. It’s in no way complete, but it should give you an idea of all the sites which are not available to people around the world.
Streaming Movie & TV Websites blocked or partially blocked outside of the US
Netflix USA version is not available outside of the US.
Websites as part of a cable package
TV & Cable Channels
News, weather traffic
Educational TV And Movies
Kids TV And Movies
CMT – Country Music Television
Samsung Milk Music
Tennis Channel Everywhere
PGA Tour Live
NCAA March Madness
FOX Soccer 2Go