How To Use Apple TV Outside the US
People who live outside of the United States tend to get a bit of a raw deal when it comes to streamed content. Many major content providers shortchange their international customers, because of the outdated licensing model used by entertainment companies in Hollywood and elsewhere. In an era when a person can move easily from country to country and continent to continent, our intellectual property regimes are still oriented towards a time when people stayed in the same town for their entire life, or at least it seems that way sometimes. One example of this phenomenon is Apple TV, which theoretically blocks access to a great deal of content if you don’t live in the United States.
I say theoretically because this article will walk you through the process of setting up your Apple TV even if you don’t live in the USA.
Apple TV is one of the many streaming services that geoblocks content, that is, it restricts access to media depending on where you live. If you live in the US, you generally get access to the full catalog of content. If you live outside the US, you have either a restricted catalog or no access at all. However, media companies like Apple don’t actually know where they live. All the know is what your IP address is, and that’s how you can route around their irrational and outdated restrictions.
Why geoblocking is bad
Knowledge and culture should be open to all but unfortunately they aren’t always. It isn’t usually the streaming company’s fault, though. Apple, Netflix, Hulu, Pandora and other media streaming services are often hamstrung by archaic licensing terms from the movie and music industry. Hollywood and the music publishers are still in the 20th century in terms of global outlook and it doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon. Rather than adopting a much simpler, and arguably fairer global licensing system, they prefer to do it by region. Their reasons for this are their own but likely come down to money as these things always do. Unfortunately, the only loser here is the consumer.
But with a little ingenuity, there are ways around these restrictions.
Setting up a US Apple ID
Your first hurdle in getting Apple TV outside the US is being able to access the system itself. Usually, iTunes will require a payment method to create a new account. You won’t have access to a US address or American credit card in order to do this, but there is a way around it. You can use an existing iTunes account as a springboard.
- Log into a VPN service and select a US IP address.
- Log into iTunes using your existing account.
- Set your country to US in Account settings.
- Sign out of iTunes.
- Find a free app or music track from iTunes and download it.
- You will be prompted to sign in, select Create New Account instead.
- Set up your email and password and select ‘None’ as the payment method. Do not use the same email address as your existing Apple ID.
- Add the rest of the account details using the US address you got from a provider.
- Verify your account via email.
- Return to iTunes and download the TV app.
Apparently, the Apple TV app isn’t available outside the US so you have to perform this process in order to be able to download it. To do it successfully, you either have to configure your router to use the US VPN server or use your VPN provider’s app before visiting iTunes on your device.
Choosing a VPN provider
Setting up a VPN on an iPhone is actually very straightforward. The same process will also work on an iPad. Read ‘How To Setup a VPN on an iPhone’ for the specifics. Essentially, you can download an app from the VPN provider or set up iOS to access the VPN when you toggle it. Both methods achieve the same result so much depends on whether you are happy having yet another app on your phone or if you prefer to manage it manually.
Selecting your VPN provider should be done carefully. Not only does the network speed, security and service quality vary a lot between providers, some are better than others when it comes to avoiding geoblocking. While VPN providers work hard to help you circumvent these blocks, the providers also work to outwit the circumvention. It is a game of cat and mouse where, as usual, the consumer loses out.
When selecting a VPN provider, work with one that specifically says it works to allow access to streaming services such as Netflix. While this tutorial is specifically about Apple TV, Netflix is currently fighting VPN services the hardest. If a VPN can get Netflix working, it will likely allow access to Apple TV too.
Select a VPN provider that has US destination servers and strives to maintain access to Netflix or other streaming service. If it mentions Apple TV, all the better. Otherwise check out NordVPN, PureVPN, PIA, TotalVPN and others. Google is your friend there. Just make sure that it specifically mentions streaming services.
Because the VPN landscape is changing rapidly all the time, I can’t recommend a specific VPN provider; the goalposts are moving all the time. What one VPN provider may be able to offer one week may change the next as the fight goes on. Generally speaking, well-reviewed VPN companies that have been around for a long time are your best bet – the “latest and greatest” service might also be the one that disappears overnight leaving you stuck for a VPN solution. Just do your research and make an informed decision.
Good luck! If you have suggestions for ways to access Apple TV outside of the United States, be sure to mention them below!