How to set up VPN on Apple TV (without router)

The App Store on Apple TV doesn’t support VPNs. If you want to use your Apple TV with the end-to-end encryption VPNs offer, you need to put your VPN on a router. However, if you want to use a VPN with your Apple TV to access geo-blocked content – like US Netflix or BBC iPlayer, for example – then you can use your VPN’s DNS settings. Here’s what you need to do.

See also: How to watch BBC iPlayer on Apple TV outside UK

How to set up VPN on Apple TV without router

If you want the end-to-end encryption feature that VPN’s offer, then the best way to enjoy the security and location-spoofing servers VPNs offer on Apple TV is to load the VPN onto your router and use the wired ethernet connection to enjoy the best speeds.

However, this involves a little bit of labour, and if you don’t have a spare router, you might not want to run your entire home network through a VPN.

If this is the case, there is another workaround that will give you let you spoof your Apple TV’s location using your VPN’s DNS settings.

Note: I’ve only tested this method with ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) and Smart DNS Proxy ($4.90/month), but most other high-end VPNs should have hacks that work in a similar way.

What is DNS?

DNS stands for Domain Name System and, in simple terms, it represents the “system” that allows us to enter words inside of numbers to visit websites.

Most of you reading this will be automatically be using your ISP’s (Internet Service Provider’s) DNS (Domain Name Server). And in normal circumstances, this is fine. However, if you want to watch BBC iPlayer from outside of the UK, you need to find a way to trick the BBC iPlayer website into thinking you’re accessing its content from a UK IP address.

VPNs offer a user-friendly way of doing this – with the added benefit of end-to-end encryption. With VPNs, all you need to do is download an app. The rest is automatical – all your internet traffic will be encrypted and rerouted via a server/IP in a location of your choice. 

If you’re looking for a way to watch BBC iPlayer on your laptop, smartphone or iPad, I suggest using a VPN instead – like ExpressVPN or Ivacy – as this is the quickest and easiest way to watch BBC iPlayer abroad.

However, if you’re comfortable with changing your device’s network setting on a semi-regular basis, then subscribing to a good DNS server is a great way to watch BBC iPlayer from outside the UK.

See also: How to fix Netflix Error Code m7111-5059?

How does using a DNS server work with US Netflix, Hulu, or BBC iPlayer?

When you’re not using a VPN or smart DNS server, websites can detect your location based on the IP address you’re connecting from.

If you want to watch US Netflix, for example, and you’re accessing the internet from outside the US, your normal IP address (assigned by your ISP) won’t be from US’s range of IP addresses – meaning you’ll be served your local Netflix library.

By changing your DNS settings, you can reroute your internet via your smart DNS server. This means websites will see requests coming from your smart DNS server’s IP address(es), not your real IP address. 

The end result, in this scenario, is Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer or any other major streaming service seeing your connection coming from an IP address in a location of your choosing.

How to set up ExpressVPN on Apple TV

ExpressVPN has a workaround in place that lets you use your VPN account, via a smart DNS server – to stream content from different regions on your Apple TV account.

There are a few steps involved. But it’s actually really easy. Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Get ExpressVPN ($6.66/month – with 30-day money-back guarantee)
  2. Go to My Account > DNS Settings > click Register my IP address
  3. Go to dynu.com and click Create Account.
  4. Next, select DDNS Services.
  5. Click + Add to add a DDNS service.
  6. Make one up a hostname – it can be literally anything – and select any Top Level domain
  7. Click + Add.
  8. You will now see your hostname in [square brackets] and your current public IP under IPv4 Address.
  9. Turn the following switches off: Wildcard IPv4 Alias; Wildcard IPv6 Alias; Enable IPv6 Address; Email Notification
  10. Copy your hostname and click Save
  11. Go to expressvpn.com/dns_settings and paste your hostname into the Dynamic DNS registration field
  12. Go to Setup Apple TV
  13. Make a note of the DNS address on the screen
  14. Turn on your Apple TV and go to Settings > General > Wifi/Ethernet > Click on your network > Configure DNS > Manual > Enter your DNS
  15. Enter new DNS address
  16. Restart Apple TV

Get ExpressVPN for $6.66/month – 30-day money-back guarantee

How to set up Smart DNS Proxy on Apple TV

If you don’t already have ExpressVPN, or any VPN, then it’s worth considering Smart DNS Proxy (14-day free trial – then $4.90/month) also.

Smart DNS Proxy doesn’t offer the same end-to-end encryption that VPNs do, however, it’s arguably much better suited to location spoofing on the Apple TV.

Smart DNS Proxy works with BBC iPlayer, US Netflix, Amazon Prime, ITV hub and literally hundreds of other streaming websites.

Smart DNS Proxy also lets you configure which IP location gets served to a specific website. This means you can easily set up your DNS to serve a US IP to Netflix while serving a UK IP address to BBC iPlayer; you can even configure it to serve a Saudi Arabian IP for BeIN Sports. All you need to do is change your DNS settings once.

Like any DNS or VPN service, the real value Smart DNS Proxy provides is uptime with streaming sites. This is the best DNS for providing its users for working IPs with BBC iPlayer. 

There’s also a generous 14-day free trial, and you don’t even need to enter your credit card details, so you can test the server before deciding whether you want to pay $5/month.

  1. Go to Smart DNS Proxy and register for a 14-day free trial (then $4.90/month)
  2. Activate your real IP address via the Account Home page 
  3. Make a note of your nearest server addresses from www.smartdnsproxy.com/servers
  4. Go to Apple TV Settings > General > Network > Wifi/Ethernet > Click on your network > Configure DNS > Manual > Enter your DNS
  5. Enter the DNS address from step three
  6. Restart Apple TV
  7. Watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world

Click here to get a 14-day free trial with Smart DNS Proxy.

Read next: BBC iPlayer not working with VPN: Here’s how to FIX that!

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