It's Study Abroad, not Study a Broad
January 24, 2016 9:43 PM   Subscribe

I am and American and will be spending a quarter studying abroad in Berlin this spring, and I am wondering if my numerous media accounts will work while I am there?

I have read several things that have lead me to believe that things like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Google Play work differently or are pretty limited when you are overseas, even if your account is based in the US. Since I am going to be living in an apartment without a television, I am going to want access to some form of media, especially streaming my Google Music account as that will be my primary source of music. Does anyone know how this works or if this will be a problem? Are there ways around any restrictions (legally)?

**And before you lecture me about how I should get out and see the world while I am there, yes, I fully intend to (are you kidding me? I've waited a lifetime for this!) However, I am an older, disabled student and there will be plenty of days where my health and energy levels will require I stay home and recharge for a bit before I go back out and adventure.**
posted by evilcupcakes to Technology (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yes - I live in Australia. Even with a US account + banking details Netflix and the like will pick up that I'm accessing from a different country with different rules and licensing agreements for the content. Get a VPN blocker and you're GTG. In my experience, this is the case for Netflix, Amazone Prime, and Hulu. Not sure about Google Music. Not sure about legalities.

(I lived in Japan for a year in my mid-twenties, no health issues. Even then I consumed plenty of "English" content to recharge, and at one point about six weeks after arriving spent a whole long weekend in my apartment without leaving! I was just that drained. I still saw a ton and had a great time. Keep count of your spoons. IMO This is one of the benefits of living somewhere rather than just traveling there. It's an excuse to test out all the weird "foreign" facial masks/tea/snacks/bubble bath/magazines etc... right?)
posted by jrobin276 at 9:53 PM on January 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

I live in berlin. You are correct that generally a lot of these things are blocked. You can use a Vpn sometimes to get around this. Vpns are legal, although this particular usage is a grey area.

Netflix, as of now, works. They claim that they might start blocking it soon. (The block isn't in the program, it's by blocking the internet address associated with the vpn)

Hulu has never worked for me though a vpn. They block vpn IP address ranges.

Amazon prime is a different account for each country. So, does not share prime with I don't know if it works with vpn, but beware -- if you don't speak german, a lot of the streaming on is dubbed only, so you might not even want to move the account if it's possible.

For the other services I cannot say.
posted by cotterpin at 10:48 PM on January 24, 2016

You 'have' to get a VPN if you want to use content providers like this in Germany.
I... Have a friend who has one (found through some website (lifehacker?) that did an assessment of a bunch) and has had great success, though his connection isn't great and sometimes the added jump through the VPN slows things down a little.

But a vpn is the way to go. There's also an NPR station 104.6 fm, and if you live anywhere remotely cool (I don't) a lot of people speak enough English.

Have fun!
posted by From Bklyn at 11:03 PM on January 24, 2016

I used prime in Germany via VPN no problems. I also had an account, use a different email address so they don't merge because .de prime is quite different. I also used Netflix and BBC iPlayer and occasionally Hulu although that was a couplehof years ago. Sometimes you just need a different VPN server.

I use witopia. A good vpn service is essential and worth paying for in my experience.
posted by shelleycat at 11:31 PM on January 24, 2016

Unfortunately as of this weekend Netflix appear to be actively blocking VPNs and Hulu have been doing the same for some time. You'll likely only be able to access the German Netflix library and nothing at all on Hulu.

I'm not sure how Amazon and Google Play will work - they do both seem to base their library on where you're account is held rather than where you are currently (based on past VPN experience). I assume anything you've already outright bought would still be available to you.
posted by *becca* at 1:53 AM on January 25, 2016

If you're looking for a reliable way to get tv shows and things, you can buy stuff from the American iTunes store in Germany if you already have an American account. You will probably be able to stream shows off of Amazon prime too. But Hulu won't work and you'll only be able to access the German version of Netflix.
posted by colfax at 3:16 AM on January 25, 2016

Response by poster: Vielen Dank! Eigentlich spreche ich Deutsch, aber nicht so gut. German is my minor, and I do speak some and can watch movies & read fairly well (MUCH better than I can speak it, unfortunately. Hoping to improve that while I am over there.) I have an account already, so I will see how that works too. Sounds like the VPN is the way to go. Bummer about Netflix and Hulu, hopefully Netflix in Germany will have somethings interesting. I have heard that the selection is extremely limited there, hence my concern.
posted by evilcupcakes at 3:18 AM on January 25, 2016

I'm In the US and have often used vpns to get access to the Netflix of various European countries because it is different stuff. It's way more limited but if you've exhausted a lot of what US Netflix has to offer, you might be surprised by some of the good stuff you find on German Netflix. Netflix in other countries isn't so much US Netflix - 90% of the content, it's often entirely different stuff completely (and yes, less of it).
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:28 AM on January 25, 2016

I... My friends watches Hulu through his VPN from Germany. 'Astril' though some have not worked as well, and sometimes you have to empty the cache on your browser. - it does/can work without heroic measures
posted by From Bklyn at 4:33 AM on January 25, 2016

I live in Berlin. I'm registered for both and with the same email address, I use the cloud player for music from here just fine. Last time I tried was more than a year ago, but back then streaming video from worked just fine too. I also use Google music with a US account, which works fine from here as well, no VPNs.
posted by tempythethird at 5:50 AM on January 25, 2016

Hi Grew up in America and live in Norway.

The easiest way to get access to all your fun stuff like Netflix, Hulu extra is to use DNS VPN.

Let me clarify a bit. A VPN is a tunnel with a server on the US side that redirects all your traffic through that server. Works very well, but can be a pain to work with. I have used several as well as my own cloud based Linux server from Rackspace, but in all honesty it turns out to be an all or nothing approach.

Not to mention your internet speed can suffer greatly depending on how many users are using the same VPN.

What I use now and is by far the easiest is

With a DNS proxy it merely tricks US based sites to believe you are in the USA without the additional hassle. Yes, you have to change your DNS settings for each PC/MAC network working on, but believe me it takes about 30 seconds. You then have access to both local (German) and international (US) content without a reduction in internet speed or having to switch back and forth from different modes (VPN on/off).

It costs 4 bucks a month and I have to admit - much better than mediahint or a private VPN. We have used for over 3 years without a hitch. This include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon prime and more. The bonus is that with smartdnsproxy - i can switch over to UK easily to support all streaming/channels there as well as a host of other countries.

Supports all. Pc/Mac/console/router/TV etc.

Give them a try - they offer a free 10 day trial with your email address. No credit card required.

Please note this is a personal recommendation and I am not associated with smartdnsproxy - it just works - all the time without hassle.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 8:33 AM on January 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: tempythethird: Are you accessing your own music or streaming music from these sites? I pay for Google Music's streaming services, so I am accessing music I don't "own". Really, that is the most important service to me, I have dozens of radio stations and playlists on there I really want access to.
posted by evilcupcakes at 11:54 AM on January 25, 2016

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