How to Watch Game of Thrones Outside the US
Game of Thrones is a pop-culture phenomenon with so much momentum that it’s incapable of slowing down. Each additional season evangelizes new fans into becoming fanatics who can’t wait until the next episode. Even though many fans find it odd that the storyline in the HBO series has surpassed that of the books, most are relieved that fresh episodes are surging forward with each new season of the television program.
Unfortunately, if you’re not a resident in the United States, you may have problems accessing the latest episodes, depending where you’re located. The good news is that there is a myriad of ways to follow your favorite characters through George R. R. Martin’s maze of plot lines. Some methods are more secure than others. Let’s start by talking about one of the most popular methods: BitTorrent.
Method 1: BitTorrent (Virtual Private Network and Antivirus Recommended)
BitTorrent and peer-to-peer (P2P) technologies have been a favorite distribution medium of content junkies, movie buffs, and television series addicts for years. It’s no secret that within a matter of hours (perhaps even minutes if there are enough seeders), you can download entire seasons of your favorite shows. Given the immense popularity of Game of Thrones, it’s not surprising that masses of people have turned to BitTorrent to keep up with their favorite characters.
TorrentFreak reports that Game of Thrones is the most pirated television program on the internet, so BitTorrent certainly deserves an honorable mention as one of the best ways to watch Game of Thrones outside the US. However, BitTorrent does come with a variety of security risks. If you do choose to download torrent content, I’d highly recommend taking advantage of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) tunnel.
A VPN tunnel will increase security in three main ways. First of all, it will prevent other seeders and leechers (that is, downloaders and uploaders) in the P2P swarm from seeing your real Internet Protocol (IP) address. Instead, others will only see the IP address of the VPN server, which drastically protects your privacy.
Secondly, since your downloads are encrypted through the VPN tunnel, governmental organizations and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) won’t be able to see what you’re downloading. That could be a mission-critical requirement if you live in a part of the world where copyright regulations are overly harsh.
Thirdly, a VPN tunnel will help you access torrent sites that may be blocked in your region. For instance, it’s not uncommon for countries to block access to The Pirate Bay. A VPN tunnel will make that site available, so you can find the latest episodes of your favorite shows.
Method 2: Streaming from the HBO Website (VPN Recommended)
Since Game of Thrones is an HBO series, you can access it on the HBO website, but there are several problems related to doing so. First of all, the HBO site isn’t available in all regions due to complex copyright and licensing restrictions. Whenever content isn’t available in a certain geographic area, the easiest solution is to fire up your favorite VPN tunnel software.
Providers like ExpressVPN, PIA VPN, IPVanish and others will easily allow you to unblock censored websites in just about any country in which the provider hosts servers – but not always. There are a few nuances, especially regarding multimedia streaming sites like HBO, Hulu, Netflix, and others. These types of sites got wise to the fact that people were using VPN tunnels to access content remotely.
To combat VPN users, HBO and other sites started blocking incoming connections using IP addresses from VPN service providers. They have enjoyed some success, but it’s a monumental task to attempt rounding up every VPN provider’s IP addresses in one enormous blacklist. It’s neither practical nor feasible. IP addresses keep changing hands and are frequently leased, making the task of updating a blacklist of IP addresses each time a new VPN server comes online a virtually impossible game of whack-a-mole.
I highly recommend downloading the HBO app. You can also watch free full-length episodes on the HBO site, though some of the content is gated. In addition to needing a VPN tunnel to access regional content, you’re going to need a subscription. However, if the prospect of paying for your Westeros fix sounds unappealing, read on to discover more free ways to access Game of Thrones.
Method 3: Multimedia Streaming Devices and Boxes (VPN Recommended)
There always seems to be a new IP streaming device or software like smart TV, Raspberry Pi, Apple TV, Kodi boxes, Popcorn Time, the Amazon Fire TV stick, and similar products. Although all of these products have different features, algorithms and prices, they more or less work in the same way: you download or stream content straight to your television or computing device.
This circumvents the need to sign up for traditional cable packages, and instantly puts a wealth of content at your fingertips. However, since the content is delivered via the internet (as opposed to a cable network), it suffers from the same regional problems as most other online streaming services.
For instance, if you want to use an Amazon Fire stick to access free content, you may need a VPN tunnel to unlock blocked content. Alternatively, if you are using Popcorn Time on a Kodi Box (or other similar device), you’ll still likely want a VPN tunnel to protect your anonymity and privacy. Popcorn Time actually uses P2P technology to stream BitTorrent content straight to your device, but BitTorrent has its fair share of security problems (as discussed above).
The channel or source of the video content depends heavily on which external device you use, which channels you subscribe to, and where you are geographically located. Just remember that most external devices lack the ability to terminate a VPN tunnel. As such, it’s frequently necessary to use a router that’s capable of connecting to a VPN server. If your router lacks that capability, you may need to upgrade to DD-WRT or Tomato firmware to access Game of Thrones content that’s regionally blocked.
Method 4: Streaming Content Portals (VPN, Ad-blocker and Antivirus Recommended)
Last but not least, it’s possible to stream videos from content sites hosted on the internet for free. However, I typically loathe this option, as these types of sites are rather sketchy, and most seem to make money through intrusive and irritating pop-up ads. Sites like CouchTuner and Putlocker host entire libraries of movies and television shows that can be downloaded or streamed for free.
I would caution you to have an antivirus application installed, with real-time features and phishing protection in conjunction with a VPN tunnel. There are many competing domains that target visitors to free media sites with phishing attacks. For example, run a Google search for “putlocker” and you’ll see at least five different domains (such as putlocker, putlocker-hd, putlocker9, and so forth). These types of websites can change hands pretty quickly, and without proper protection you have no way of knowing whether a website is legitimate or if it’s going to execute a malicious script in your browser.
I’d also advise using a VPN tunnel to protect your anonymity against ad tracking. For that matter, you’ll likely want a good ad-blocker as well, as a lot of these types of websites host digital marketing campaigns that are less than savory.
How to Watch Game of Thrones Outside the US: Conclusions
Game of Thrones season 7 is slated to be released in mid-July 2017, which is just around the corner. If you don’t have an HBO subscription or you aren’t located in the US, you’ll have to turn to one of these alternative sources to keep up with the Starks, Lannisters and Targaryens. Of the solutions mentioned, I think getting the content straight from HBO is the best option for two reasons.
First, it’s the safest option from a legal perspective. You won’t have to worry about copyright infringement issues or other legal consequences. Additionally, it’s also one of the safest options from a security perspective. HBO is a trustworthy organization with a great online reputation, so you won’t have to worry about downloading a virus or your computer becoming infected by malware.
However, if HBO isn’t a desirable or viable option for you, I think the next best approach is to access it for free via Popcorn Time. I’d caution you to avoid resorting to free online streaming sources like Putlocker. I know how badly most people want to see the latest episodes, but in the long run it’s not worth it if a virus compromises your computer. Last but not least, remember that a Virtual Private Network tunnel will unblock foreign content the majority of the time, including Game of Thrones episodes.