Can you use a VPN to view Apple TV?
In short, Yes you can as long as you set it on your router! The long answer depends entirely on how you watch Apple TV – in terms of what device you use and how your internet is connected. In case you are using wifi like most people here’s how:
Yes – you can get around the Apple TV+ restrictions with a VPN
Whilst you can’t apply a VPN to the Apple TV app, you can install certain VPN agents directly onto your home router, thereby enabling you to choose an IP address with any geo-location you desire, but this means that every device in the house is affected, which might not be ideal.
Alternatively, the easiest way to avoid geo-restrictions are to view Apple TV not through an app on a smart TV, nor through an external Apple TV box plugged into an older type TV, but simply by creating an Apple account and visiting tv.apple.com.
This way, you can watch Apple TV through your normal internet browser like Chrome, Edge or Firefox, then install your VPN as normal, as a browser extension, thus enabling you to watch Apple TV from anywhere, with all the advantages of using a VPN at the same time.
Now for the historical background and the longer answer
Apple TV is unique in that, up until the release of Windows 11, Apple TV only ran as a system-native app for Macs, iPads and iPhones. Unlike a normal web browser, where you could watch, say, a YouTube video, Apple TV was (and remains) a media player that runs on Mac computers and Apple devices.
However, Apple has now released an Apple TV app that can run as a stand-alone media player for Apple TV+ content on Windows 11. Nevertheless, the short answer is that a VPN cannot be installed directly onto the Apple TV app itself as it stands on Mac or Windows.
But that’s not to say that you can’t use a VPN to circumvent the geographic restrictions placed on Apple TV+ – so you can still watch some shows that are normally only available in, say, the USA if you are resident, or even just on vacation, in Europe. But it’s a bit more complicated than you might think.
Historic geographical content barriers with apple TV
Many people can’t understand why Apple, or indeed many other streaming platforms like Disney Plus, Netflix or Hulu impose content restrictions on certain regions of the world. It’s nothing to do with any formatting inconsistencies, for sure, as it was years ago.
Some people might remember as far back as VHS video tape players and the fact that there were two mechanical systems and two electronic formats that caused incompatibility issues between people using tape players in Europe and the Americas. For a start, there were two different types of videotape cassettes and machines that could play them; namely VHS and Betamax. The VHS format was cheaper (and slightly poorer quality) than its Betamax rival, but cost effectiveness won the day, and for many years, VHS tapes became the de-facto standard format for watching video tape cassettes across the world.
The further complication for both mechanical systems was also electronic, in terms of color rendition. In Europe, Australia and the UK, in fact most of the world, the electronic coding to display color on any monitor that a video cassette recorder (VCR) was plugged into was known as PAL. This stands for Phase Alternate Line, made up of 625 interconnected lines on screen, displayed at 25 frames per second (FPS). If a monitor or TV was built to display the PAL protocol, all good.
Another Russian, Asian and East European video output protocol was called SECAM, standing for Sequential Color and Memory. This was close to PAL in its output, so you could get away with watching a SECAM balanced signal on a PAL device.
However the American system was called NTSC – standing for National Television Standards Committee – the initial letters of the trade body that oversaw the specifications for monochrome and color television systems used in Japan and the Americas.In simple terms, if you bought a videotape that was intended for sale in the USA and played it on a European VCR, the picture would be horrendously bad and unwatchable.
As VHS gave way to DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) the color coding and FPS conventions simply transferred over from magnetic tape to optical media. So if you purchased a DVD in America but tried to watch it on a European DVD player, the encoding simply wouldn’t show a picture at all. Rather than NTSC, SECAM and PAL, these DVD geographical restrictions were known as ‘region codes’ of which there are eight, with the two by far biggest groups being Region 1 (USA) and Region 2 (most of the rest of the world).
It’s all about the legal eagles
The reason for this thorough explanation is simple – all those historic formatting incompatibilities formed a natural geographic restriction barrier for content publishers. But as the internet has almost no formatting inconsistencies across the globe, streaming companies now manually add geographical restrictions using IP addresses.
IP address restrictions are placed so that content with strict USA copyright regulations attached can’t be viewed in areas of the world where copyright theft is less prosecutable. In short, if someone is showing a pirated Netflix movie in a bar in Africa, the chances of Netflix’ legal teams in the USA prosecuting the miscreants are virtually zero.
Hope we covered it all for you.
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