Hulu only works with internet connections coming from inside the US. If you’re not in the US, and you want to watch Hulu, you need to use a VPN to spoof your IP address. In this article, I’ll outline the best VPNs that work with Hulu in 2020, and highlight some common traps to avoid too.
How to watch Hulu outside the US: Quick guide
Hulu only works with American IP addresses (internet connections). If you’re outside of the US and you want to watch Hulu you need to spoof your IP address to an American one. The best way to do this is via a VPN.
VPN’s combine end-to-end encryption with a global network of servers (and IP addresses), allowing customers to reroute their internet connection via anonymous IP addresses in a country of their choice.
If you want to watch Hulu outside the US, follow these simple steps.
- Get a VPN that works with Hulu
- Download and install the VPN app on your device
- Connect to a server in the US
- Go to hulu.com and watch from anywhere in the world!
Can Hulu detect VPNs?
While all VPNs are capable of providing you with an American IP address, not all of them will work with Hulu. The reason for this is simple, Hulu blocks IP addresses that it detects as coming from VPN servers.
How does Hulu detect VPNs?
The methods Hulu (and Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, etc.) detect VPNs are pretty basic. There are three parts to it:
1. Online streaming services check for IP, DNS and WebRTC leaks. This is a basic test that good VPNs don’t fail.
However, if you’re using a free, or cheap, VPN, there’s a chance your connection might not be fully watertight – making it insecure.
2. GeoIP databases, such as MaxMind, verify the IP address you’re connecting from. If your VPN is using an IP address that’s on one of these lists you won’t be able to watch Hulu.
3. Streaming services also perform their own IP checks, and they blacklist any IP address that has an abnormal number of account logins, or internet traffic, originating from it.
VPNs have (a lot) more customers than servers, making this last method very effective against some VPNs.
Fortunately, the best VPNs recognise this. They combat it too. By offering more servers/IPs in popular VPN countries. They also have software to spread connections evenly around their IPs. Their final tactic is a game of Cat and Mouse: when an IP gets blacklisted, a fresh IP is rolled out.
Read my article on Hulu not working with VPN to find out more.
Why does Hulu block (some) VPNs?
Because it has to. Hulu, and other networks available via the app, can only broadcast to American internet connections. Why? Because it only owns the US broadcasting licenses.
Let’s look at the hit show (available on Hulu), The Handmaid’s Tale, for example. Hulu actually paid production company MGM for the rights to broadcast the TV series in the US.
Elsewhere around the world, Channel 4 bought the rights for the UK, CTV Drama Channel did the same in Canada, and RTE won the rights in Ireland. This pattern was repeated around the world.
In the UK and Ireland, Channel 4 and RTE are ad-supported free networks, with free online catch-up services. These broadcasters have to (attempt to) block VPN connections as they only own regional broadcasting licenses for the content they air.
Without VPN bans, Hulu and every other streaming service would have no way of policing their digital borders, resulting in production company’s – like MGM – insisting they buy global licenses for their content.
Can I watch Hulu with a free VPN?
No. Not for long anyway. Free VPNs are the first to get blacklisted by Hulu for one simple reason: too many people use them. As I’ve outlined above, Hulu monitors the number of account logins coming from each IP, and blacklists addresses that facilitate an abnormal level of connections.
Premium VPNs, like the one’s I’ve listen below, are able to invest their customer’s subscription fees in their network infrastructure to ensure there are enough IP addresses to spread across their userbase. Keeping the number of connections from each server below Hulu’s threshold.
Best VPNs that work with Hulu (July 2020)
The BEST VPN of 2020!
Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speed: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 160 in 94 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes
ExpressVPN is the best VPN you can buy. If you can afford the extra few pounds/dollars a month, you won’t regret it.
The first thing you need to know about this VPN is that it’s fast. Really fast! It consistently tops our independent VPN speed tests, with blazingly fast download/upload speeds.
And importantly, it ALWAYS has servers that are open with major streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video etc.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN on the market at playing Cat and Mouse with online streaming sites. Meaning, whenever one of its servers is blacklisted it creates a new one – giving its users a constant stream of servers that aren’t blocked. Needless to say, this is a valuable attribute if you’re looking for a VPN to unblock streaming sites.
Its app is easy-to-use and free to download on pretty much any device you can think of. Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, FireStick, Android TV, Roku, PS4, Xbox, Linux, even Apple TV (with a workaround). It’s got it all covered.
The app is another main reason this VPN is so good at unblocking TV streaming sites (that claim they block VPNs) is that its software takes a pragmatic approach to user management. While other VPNs tempt customers by promising them access to hundreds/thousands of servers in multiple countries, ExpressVPN does things differently.
With ExpressVPN you only have a handful of server locations to choose from. Once you select your location the app takes care of the rest. Assigning you to the fastest available server that’s not oversubscribed. This simple technique is so important, as it keeps ExpressVPN’s servers operating at lightning-fast speeds and prevent its IPs from getting blacklisted for “abnormal” usage in the first place.
ExpressVPN is a little more expensive than the other VPNs. But if you want the most reliable VPN on the market, there’s only one choice. ExpressVPN is the best.
The BEST mid-range VPN for streaming!
Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speeds: >75% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 70 in 48 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes
Private Internet Access is one of the leading no-log VPN services with over 1 million paying customers.
This VPN is one of the best in the industry at beating streaming sites’ VPN bans. It provides reliable connections with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+ Amazon Prime Video, etc. It also allows 10 simultaneous devices to be connected to its servers at the same time, so you can share the account with your close friends.
If, for whatever reason, you’re not happy with Private Internet Access, there’s a 24/7 live chat support available to assist you with your problem. PIA also offers the industry-standard 30-days money-back guarantee.
From my tests (from New Zealand) I was able to get download speeds of 70 Mbps while connected to a UK server using the Private Internet Access VPN (my non-VPN speed is 100 Mbps).
The BEST low-cost VPN
Number of servers: 1,000+ | Speed: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 275 in 100 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes
If you’re looking for an excellent VPN, with an even better price tag, Ivacy ($1.16/month) is a great option.
This VPN has all the features you need to stream BBC iPlayer, in HD, from any country in the world. I’ve been testing the app recently on Mac, PC, Android, iOS and FireStick and the results have been impressive – unlocking BBC iPlayer, US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. with ease.
The Ivacy app is a little different in regards to its UX (user experience). Instead of just selecting a UK server, you need to select the specific BBC iPlayer server. Don’t worry, this isn’t a bad thing – by connecting to a dedicated BBC iPlayer server, it simply means that you’re connecting to an IP address that Ivacy knows works with BBC iPlayer.
For an extra $1.99/month (£1.74) you can add-on a dedicated IP. This will buy you sole access to an IP address in a country of your choice, meaning you won’t have to share your IP (and speeds) with any other use. I don’t recommend this though, using the regular Ivacy servers is enough 95 per cent of the time.
7-DAY TRIAL – $0.99
(30-day money-back guarantee)
A solid all-round VPN option!
Number of servers: 5,000+ | Speeds: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 62 countries | Devices supported: 6 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes
NordVPN is the most widely-used VPN in the world. And its easy to see why. It’s a polished app that delivers fast connections (more on this later) to a massive network of VPN servers.
It’s pretty reliable at unblocking popular streaming services too – US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. – but its record isn’t perfect. NordVPN claims that’s all changed now as a result of hiring full-time technical team (that’s responsible for monitoring its servers connections with popular TV streaming services) and aggressive investment in its network of IP addresses in key locations.
Another interesting thing to note is that NordVPN is an industry leader in its development of Nordlynx technology. Nordlynx is built using the WireGuard, a new VPN tunnelling protocol designed to outperform current standards (OpenVPN and IPSec). The benefits, according to NordVPN, are dramatically faster transfer speeds while connected to a VPN. My tests – New Zealand to London – confirm that Nordlynx is currently the fastest VPN on the market. However, the difference isn’t dramatic, a few Mbps is all.
Number of servers: 6,000+ | Speeds: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 200 in 90 countries | Devices supported: 7 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes
CyberGhost is one of the more established VPNs on the market. It has a well-established, and well-tested global network of servers that perform well.
From my tests over the past several months, CyberGhost has no trouble at unblocking major streaming services – US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max etc. This VPN performed well at maintaining download speeds, well above 65 per cent of my regular (non VPN) ISP speed.
That said, there’s nothing really unique about the service. Which forces you to look at its price-point. And there’s nothing special here. Its short-term $12.99/month price tag puts is well above the industry average of $10.10/month. Similarly, its long-term $2.75/month for 3 years deal isn’t much of a “deal” either.
Oddly, CyberGhost’s most unique feature is its a 1-day, no obligations, free trial. This is an appealing offer to customers who are new to VPNs. However, it’s important to remember that most reputable VPNs will offer customers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so try not to be too seduced by the offer.