I find it really annoying when broadcasters prevent you from watching videos outside your own country. I understand the licensing issues involved but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow when you want to listen or watch a broadcast from outside your own country.
The way broadcasters block you is by detecting your IP address. If it’s from outside of the country of broadcast, you’ll either receive a standard copyright blurb or simply receive nothing at all. While trying to watch the US Tennis Open on CBS I discovered Hotspot Shield which is a highly useful utility that can help you get round this problem. Officially, it’s designed to protect you while you are surfing in order to prevent personal info being stolen or simply allow you to surf anonymously. It does this by routing your IP through various public and anonymous proxies. In effect, it sets-up a VPN between you and your internet gateway which masks your genuine IP address thus allowing you access to blocked websites.
It won’t work in all cases though and there are a few problems. Once you’ve installed it, Hotspot Shield opens up a new browser window with an address bar which you use to surf to the website of your choice. This works fine if the video you want to watch is embedded in the site itself. However, if it’s a Java applet popup, it often doesn’t work because there’s no easy way to surf to them directly. In addition, it can be painfully slow. Because your internet traffic is being routed through other proxies, it can make accessing sites very slow which isn’t much use when you’re streaming video or audio that requires a high bandwidth. Still, it can help you access that radio commentary or sports broadcast that you desperately want to see when no other options are available.