Special Broadcasting Service is a popular Australian television station, and for good reason. With shows and movies like Fargo, Hollands Hope, Masters of Sex, and more, they have a great selection. But while Australians can watch it both on TV and online through the SBS On Demand controller, non-Australians can’t. So if you are an expat living or traveling abroad, or you are a citizen of another country and have heard great things about SBS, you are missing out.
But there is a way around the Australian geoblock that lets you stream SBS Australia: a VPN. In this guide, we’ll show you what qualities to look for in a good VPN, give you our recommendations, and then show you the “how-to” of streaming SBS when outside of Australia. Finally, we will briefly talk about why this happens and some other uses for VPNs.
Features of a great VPN
It can quickly become overwhelming trying to find the best VPN for streaming SBS. The VPN industry is huge, offering hundreds of different providers. They run the gamut from big and small, reliable and shady, and safe and dangerous. But we take the time to search the market, poking, poking, and testing the most reliable, trustworthy, and best performing VPNs.
We’ve put together this list of criteria to meet when looking at a VPN for streaming SBS, or any VPN service for that matter.
- Network size + distribution: the bigger the network, the better. A large network gives you a wider variety of servers to choose from, helping you get online with the best connection for you. And just as important in this case, the VPN you choose must have at least one server located in Australia in order to stream SBS.
- Encryption: VPN encryption is what makes it special: Encryption wraps your data end-to-end, keeping all your activity and information about your true identity hidden from prying eyes. A VPN with poor encryption is likely to leak this information, possibly including your IP address, which may result in you being unable to bypass the SBS geoblock or worse, putting your identity at risk.
- Zero Log Policy – Going hand in hand with encryption, a zero log policy is important. After all, your ISP tracks your activity, why should you allow your VPN to do the same? Always make sure the provider you choose has a strong no-log policy. Without it, all the technical specs offered by a VPN are for privacy only.
- Compatibility: You may want to watch SBS on the go, so you’ll need a VPN that works on more than just desktops. Having a VPN that can be installed on a wide range of devices gives you versatility and flexibility.
How to unlock SBS Australia
Now that you know what to look for and have some ideas from some great VPN providers, what are the actual steps to unblock SBS Australia and start streaming? Before you can begin these steps, we have a “pre-step” for you.
Previous Step – Register with SBS On Demand
While SBS On Demand is a free service, you must still create an account. You don’t need a VPN yet, so go to https://www.sbs.com.au/ and click ‘sign up / sign up’. Then scroll to the bottom of the screen and click the link to create a new account. Fill in the requested information and a confirmation email will be sent to you. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be in Australia to do this.
Step 1 – Choose your VPN
Once you have signed up with SBS Australia, choose your VPN. Obviously we recommend one of the above. Assuming you do, follow the link to the provider’s website. If it didn’t automatically redirect you to their “plans” page, visit it and choose your plan. Complete the requested information and enter your payment method of choice.
Step 2 – Download and install the software
Now that you are registered for a VPN, download and install it on your device. If you are using a mobile device, you may need to go to your mobile device’s app store – use the link provided directly on your VPN provider’s site to avoid downloading potentially dangerous fakes.
Step 3 – Login and connect to an Aussie server
With your VPN already installed on your device, launch the app and log in with the login information you created in step 1. Once logged in, most VPNs will automatically connect you to the fastest server available. However, this is probably not one in Australia, so you’ll want to visit your VPN’s server list and find / select a VPN located in Australia. Connect to it and wait a few moments for it to resolve.
Step 4 – Confirm your new IP address (optional but recommended)
Once the connection is resolved, open your browser, but don’t go to SBS just yet. First, visit ipleak.net. The web page will run an IP address lookup, which will be displayed in a box near the top of the page. If the country listed in the box (below the long string of digits) says “Australia” then you are connected successfully and you can now visit sbs.com/au to begin streaming.
If the country is a country other than Australia (ie “United States”, “France”, “[your country here]”), it may not be connected properly or there is a leak. Go back to your VPN and try another server. If the problem persists, contact your VPN customer service for help.
Why doesn’t SBS work outside of Australia?
If you’ve tried watching SBS Australia abroad before, this message will probably sound familiar:
” Sorry, due to publishing rights, the content you are currently trying to view is not available outside of Australia.”
Unfortunately, that’s the problem here: the publishing rights to stream and broadcast shows and movies must be purchased individually from their copyright holders. Since SBS has a lot of pure Australian TV shows, if these shows were available in other countries, rights would have to be purchased on a per country basis, which can add up quickly. This is the reason why other streaming platforms, like Netflix and Hulu, have different content libraries depending on the country you’re viewing from.
Because they are a national, rather than international, streaming company, SBS chooses not to do this and employs geo-blocking tactics to prevent those outside of Australia from viewing their content.
What exactly is geoblocking?
Geo-blocking is a way for ISPs, governments, and organizations to restrict user access to certain types of content based off of location. Your connection to the Internet through your ISP gives you a specific and unique IP address, such as an email address. Your IP is tied to your physical location, so if you try to access SBS from the United States, SBS can see that you are in the US and not Australia and prevent you from using their services.
That’s not good if you are an expat or just traveling far from home and want to keep up with your shows at home. With a VPN, you can “pick” an Australian IP address that SBS will see and think is in Australia. By spoofing your physical location with an Australian IP address, it can trick you into believing you are actually there and viewing Australian content to your heart’s delight.
In addition to being blocked from viewing content, geoblocking also comes in other ways. Online stores may display different prices depending on where you are, charging some online shoppers more for an item that costs less elsewhere. With different laws around the world regarding gambling sites, they are another common target for geoblocking as well. If a site does not comply with the laws of the country of origin of the user’s IP, you will not be able to access it without a VPN.
So is it legal to access SBS with a VPN?
The short answer: yes.
While there are some countries where it is illegal to use a VPN right away, these are extremely downtrodden places. Australia, fortunately, is not one of them. SBS also has no concrete consequences for those who use a VPN, even if they were able to catch them, which is unlikely.
Other things you can do with a VPN.
However, VPNs aren’t just good at beating geoblocks. You can also use a VPN for other things:
- Safety : The Internet can be a dangerous place. With government spies, hackers lurking, and identity thieves patiently watching, you can’t be too sure. Because VPNs wrap your data in an encrypted tunnel, you can rest easy knowing that all your important data is kept private and protected from those prying eyes.
- Access main accounts : If you are traveling for work or pleasure, you probably have accounts in Australia where you want to access. Unfortunately, unless you use a VPN to spoof your IP at home, you could activate fraud protection on your bank account when trying to make a transfer. While it’s nice to have, it’s annoying when you know the activity is yours. so get a VPN to access all your home accounts while out of the country.
- Local Internet : When accessing your home accounts, you can also use a VPN to do local searches on Google. Since Google tailors your search results based on your physical location, by using a VPN you can zero in on something in the UK that might otherwise be difficult to find outside of an Australian network.
Come back, or start for the first time, to watch your favorite shows on SBS Australia. Use the tips and steps we present here to get a VPN and stream SBS Australia from abroad.
Have you used a VPN to stream SBS Australia? How did you go? What are your favorite shows on SBS? Let us know in the comments below.