Where does TV even come from if you can't Torrent?
April 22, 2014 4:29 AM   Subscribe

So this happened in the Netherlands, devastating our English speaking, torrent addicted household. So how can we get our TV without getting a cable subscription? Details below.

How can we cobble together a TV streaming/downloading solution that will meet our needs but also not lead to prosecution?

We have an LG tv with a USB port. We're willing to invest in some kind of streaming box (Roku, I think? Or similar?), a VPN and potentially legal services like Netflix, tho I've heard very mixed reviews of Netflix in the Netherlands. We are not willing to get a cable subscription for a variety of reasons.

If we were in the US we'd be avid users (and payers-for) Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu etc, but those options are limited here. Ideally, I'd love to be able to download the odd torrent in the future, just to expand our televisual palate.

So what would you do if you were in our situation? What kind of streaming box should we buy (NB: I am DEEPLY allergic to iTunes and its ilk [Mr Fish less so], but pretty embedded in the Amazon/Google Play ecosystems)? Would a VPN cover our butts sufficiently? If we got a VPN could we use services like Hulu and Netflix? Is life even worth living without watching 'Game of Thrones' as soon as it's released?

It's a broad question but I'm looking forward to hearing from the hive!
posted by nerdfish to Technology (10 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A VPN would work for streaming and shielding from lawsuits. Usenet has replaced torrenting in certain households around these parts; SickBeard is indispensable.

I really like our Roku on our second TV; the first has the HTPC (a Mac mini) hooked up. Both run Plex.
posted by supercres at 4:40 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'd give Dutch Netflix a try; there's a free one-month trial, and you can easily fool it into showing you US content using Hola on a computer or mobile device. You can send it to your TV with a Chromecast. That's the setup we used to use at my house; now we use Unlocater to do basically the same thing.

We also use Usenet with Sickbeard for managing TV shows and Couch Potato for finding movies, with a computer running XBMC plugged in to the TV.
posted by neushoorn at 5:00 AM on April 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

I just wanted to note that I am in the Netherlands and I love Netflix. I have thought about using a VPN because apparently US Netflix has more content, but so far Dutch Netflix is still good enough for me. No reason not to give the free trial a shot.
posted by blub at 6:28 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here in Canada I use Unblock-Us which is a DNS service that proxies requests to make international media sites think I'm coming from their location. It lets me switch between Netflix locations worldwide, watch BBC iPlayer, subscribe to Hulu Plus and Spotify, and stream the Daily Show/Colbert Report from the Comedy Central site (instead of the terrible Canadian stream). Because it's DNS, I just set it on my router and any device in the house can access the content.

Unblock-US is $5/month, and I think there are similar services that cost even less. If you use Netflix switching, http://www.moreflicks.com shows what movies and TV are available on each service (eg... this week I'll be switching over to Netflix Netherlands to watch Fargo the day after it airs in North America - last year I did the same to watch Breaking Bad on Netflix UK).
posted by Gortuk at 6:57 AM on April 22, 2014

Best answer: nthing netflix with hola to spoof your location. Easy to install & use.

Though if the ruling in the Netherlands bothers you, then these methods will too since it is clearly against the terms of use. I think netflix got wise to my ways (since I had accounts in Canada, the US and the UK in order to watch different programming) and put a notice on my account reminding me that I'm only allowed two users etc (I think they thought I gave away my password or something). Then they somehow froze netflix on my appleTV until I removed the US DNS and made it Canadian again.

That's how I lost Jackson Galaxy. Sniffles.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:08 AM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: you can easily fool it into showing you US content using Hola on a computer or mobile device

Point of reference: Netflix got wise to Hola in the last few months, so the simple, effective and free re-routing was no longer available. Paying for a service should be more reliable.

And if you're not adverse to paying for an auxiliary service for torrenting, you can look into seedboxes, which are remotely hosted services that allow you to download your torrented material from that service instead of via other torrent users. There are a number of such services, and they can help you circumvent ISP or national restrictions.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:22 AM on April 22, 2014

The Netherlands is close enough to the UK that you might be able to get Sky satellite TV (Sky Atlantic has GoT the "day after" the US, which is OK because it's on in the US at like 4am EU time anyway). I have no actual experience of this but maybe check this random link I got off Google and some UK expat forums, as if it's possible I bet a load of Brits are doing it already.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:49 AM on April 22, 2014

Best answer: From the linked article: Brein, which has stated before that it wouldn’t target individual downloaders, said in a news release on Thursday that it will go after sites and services that facilitate access to illegal material.

So it doesn't look like you'd be prosecuted, anyhow--just the sites hosting the torrent files, etc.
posted by MeghanC at 8:10 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @meghanC that's a good and important point, I'm just trying to transition to a less legally grey or visible way of obtaining my TV without a cable subscription. I might as well cover my butt before they start targeting individuals (my German colleagues may have contributed to this paranoia!)
posted by nerdfish at 8:14 AM on April 22, 2014

FWIW, the consensus is that Netflix is pretty much okay with, or at least turns a blind eye to, people using a redirecting service, be it DNS-based, a VPN, etc. As long as you're paying for your Netflix subscription you should be okay with using a service like unblock-us to change Netflix market (location). Unless the new Dutch laws explicitly cover this, but I'd be surprised if that were the case as Netflix so far is not known to show any interest in going after people who do this.

What some people have experienced, like St Peepsburg in this thread, is the limitation they impose on the number of simultaneous streams you can run, which is 2 with the basic package. However they do give you the option of shelling $5/mo extra to be able to stream to 4 devices at a time.
posted by papafrita at 10:56 AM on April 22, 2014

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