How to use Apple TV channels such as HBO and Showtime

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You can use Apple’s TV channel like HBO from Germany, but for that you have to go some detours and use services like VPN and SmartDNS. TV channels like HBO are only accessible for US users.

It’s a little disappointing: the widely announced Apple TV Channels service is tailored primarily to the US market. While you can choose from dozens of digital channels and countless cable channels in the USA, you only see one entry in Germany: Starz, which you could just as easily book via Amazon Prime.

But there are some tricks how to access US offers in Germany as well: Both on the iPad and on Apple TV! But Apple doesn’t like this… Legally this is not expressly forbidden, but it violates Apple’s terms of use and you risk the blocking of your account – which many users accept. It is therefore unfortunately uncertain how long our tips will continue to work.

The first hurdle: You need a US account with Apple to access the iTune Store. That’s not new, many film fans have been using a US account for years to access US films or certain apps via iTunes. However, there is always the danger that Apple will block this account.

Creating the new Apple ID is easy and can also be done on the Mac via iTunes. However, you must provide your own e-mail address as well as an address and telephone number in the USA. You have to choose an email address that you didn’t enter for your German Apple ID. (An old tip among US film fans: you can, for example, dial an address and number of a US hotel). A German credit card is not supported, but you can balance it with a credit card. The most important requirement is a US account.

Second requirement: US iTunes card

For the purchase of a film or the conclusion of a subscription one needs a credit on his US account – HBO costs 15 dollars a month, even for the use of the trial subscription must be therefore at least 15 dollars on the account. As an alternative to a US credit card or US Paypal account, you can buy an iTunes card from the USA – a German card does not work. This is especially easy on Ebay, there are numerous specialized and fast responding providers. If one buys a card over 15 US dollars, one must count on a purchase price of 17 euros (by the way a good business for the providers). You will then receive the card code by e-mail in the shortest possible time and can redeem it for your account.

Third condition: Channel successfully booked

If you now open the TV app on the iPad or Apple TV, you can book one of sixteen Apple TV channels: These include for example HBO, Showtime or Cinemax. For many people, HBO is particularly interesting, as series such as “Crazy Rich Asians”, feature films and exclusive shows are currently running alongside the “Game of Thrones” series.

You can now book one of these channels directly via your US account, so you can sign up for a subscription. Tip: If you only want to use a trial week, you can cancel the subscription right after the booking via your account.

However, the first time you call up a episode, we will receive a warning window: “Content not available. This video is not available in the country or region you are in.

Install VPN

  1. HBO does not want its content to be used outside the USA. You must therefore pretend to the system that you are in the USA. This is particularly easy with a VPN service, on our iPad we have chosen the German service Cyberghost – not least because it offers a one-week demo phase.
  2. Installation and operation are identical under iOS but with almost all VPN providers. You install the app via the App Store and start the app to select the location. After installation and activation you can now select a location for the VPN server, we need a location in the USA for HBO.
  3. For HBO it now looks as if the iPad is located in the USA. What you should be aware of: Now you have to allow the app to access the system via a popup window.

Relocation via VPN works comfortably

Even after installation of VPN and virtual move to the USA we still don’t see a video: Our already booked service is still blocked. We therefore have to go even further under iOS: Under the system setting “General” we change the region of our iPad from “Germany” to “United States”.

Deactivate positioning services

We still can’t retrieve any content: We therefore go to the system setting “Privacy” and open the option “Location services”. We also deactivate this function, which uses WLAN and Bluetooth to determine the iPad’s position. And we are successful: We can now access the US content without any problems.

Solution 2: Watch US TV on Apple TV

But we actually like to watch movies and series on a big TV, so Apple’s TV app is actually meant for Apple TV. Just like on the iPad, we can easily log on to Apple TV-Box at the US Store and soon see our HBO offers booked on the iPad. However, there are no VPN apps for Apple TV and our own VPN router is too expensive for us. But there is a simple solution: SmartDNS.

The background: If a video service wants to block users from other countries, it pays attention to a user’s IP address. If it is an IP address from Munich, access is denied immediately. This is where SmartDNS services come in. For a monthly fee, they fake a US IP address for the video service. Compared to VPN services, these services have one advantage: they only redirect data traffic and are therefore much faster and more stable than VPN services – a real advantage for HD videos. Another plus: they are usually also cheaper than a VPN service. Of course, the solution also works on the iPad.

Proxy DNS supports Macs, iPhone and even Apple TV

We log on to the ProxyDNS service, other SmartDNS services would be SmartDNS or Unlocator.

For a weekly fee of one dollar, we get access to the DNS service. It works like this: You get an access code after the booking and you can use this code to register on the website of the service. The current IP address of the home Internet access is then automatically registered and activated for the service.

Attention: This activation is only valid until the IP address is changed by the provider. Providers like Telekom change the IP address every day and therefore you have to log in to the service every day.

At the moment, however, nothing changes, so we first have to change the DNS settings of the playback device.
Register Apple TV

Now we have to connect the Apple TV to the service. To do this, open the system settings in Apple TV and select Settings/Network/WLAN/(Name of your WLANS)/Configure DNS. Here we have to enter the DNS server of our SmartDNS service. In our case 74.207.242.213.

From now on we can access our content, deactivating positioning services and changing the region does not seem to be absolutely necessary on Apple TV.

Too bad: It is no longer possible to retrieve content from public broadcasters such as ARD and ZDF on Apple TV – they also use geoblocking. If you want to continue accessing the ARD or ZDF media library, you have to delete the DNS server of the SmartDNS service and have Apple TV automatically set it again.