October 22, 2019

What’s on the Telly Tonight?

When it comes to watching TV while living overseas it does have its challenges. We have had apartments where the cable package is very extensive with lots of English channels and movies. Other places just have limited cable so there are basically 2 regular channels and a few news channels in English 😢 This is where we’ve had to be creative to watch our favorite shows.

When living in the US we rarely used internet TV. However, we found while living abroad this is the only way to watch TV. The main thing you need is high speed internet and a device to sling it to the TV in the apartment. As a gift, our son-in-law bought us an Apple TV (ATV) to take on our journey. We also bought a Google ChromeCast (GCC) to use as a backup just in case. At our first apartment in Sydney, we set up the Apple TV and loaded a bunch of channel apps on it like Netflix, Discovery, ABC, CBS, NBC and so on. Then we tried to watch The Good Doctor on ABC one night. We just keep getting an error message in which I had no clue what it was telling us. WTH? It appeared that I set it up correctly and I am very technologically savvy so I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. We also tried using the GCC but with the same results. Then it dawned on me 💡because we were outside the US is the reason for the messages.

Now I had to research to figure out how to remedy this problem. The solution was to subscribe to a VPN service so the apps would think your still in the US. Many expats use such a service for working remotely but I had to make sure the VPN I selected could stream my favorite channels through it since that would be its primary purpose. First, we tried Nord VPN which worked fine on the iPad, but it did not have the capability to manually change the DNS setting which was critical to watch the channels through the ATV. Again, more research on VPN services and then found Express VPN so we had to give it a try. This service has the ability to change the DNS setting automatically once set-up. This way I wouldn’t have to mess with it every time we moved to another country. Had a few issues at first getting the DNS setting connected on the Apple TV but a quick chat with Express VPN customer service had us ready to go.

Now we can watch “most” things on the ATV such as Netflix, History and Nat Geo. After all of this there are still some channels that must have something programmed into the app that blocks the channel when trying to stream through the ATV or GCC. My pet peeve is CBS. We subscribe to the channel to watch Blue Bloods and 60 Minutes yet we still cannot stream it through the ATV or GCC. The only way is to watch their shows is on our iPad 😡. Then there are some channels that just don’t want to work with the ATV so we use the GCC to cast them to the TV.

This is where you have to learn the workarounds of using internet TV. I actually went through each and every channel app and determined what is the best way to watch that channel. Then I developed a spreadsheet (shit you not!) so when we want to watch a certain program we know what channel it’s on and whether or not to use the ATV, GCC or Screen Mirror from the iPhone. Otherwise, unless you have all of your programs memorized in your head we look at each other and say “what channel was that on?”

Another thing I discovered while looking through the App Store was all the free TV streaming apps. Of course we had to try several of these and downloaded them. Boy, you can’t believe some of the crap on these channels. From old TV shows you never heard of to the worst B rated movies ever. No wonder they are free TV. I’ll bet we went through about a dozen of these until we finally found a few good ones. For the type of TV we like to watch Pluto TV, Crackle and Tubi are our favorites. They give us a good variety of TV shows, series and movies without having to have a cable subscription.

It only took us about a year to figure this all out! Not only did it give me something to investigate but was definitely a learning experience. Despite watching a lot of really bad TV in the last year we are finally watching everything we love 📺❣️

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