If there’s anything better than changing into pajamas, squeezing yourself between the crisp, slightly cold sheets of your bed, and plowing through an entire season of 90 Day Fiancé after a busy day, we have yet to experience it.
This gloriously trashy reality series is a guilty pleasure for a lot of people out there, and it’s just one of literally thousands of TV shows and movies available on Hulu, the bright green-branded streaming service founded in 2007.
Hulu passed the 28 million subscriber mark in 2019, making it the third most popular video streaming service after YouTube and Netflix. Hulu provides on-demand access to a stacked lineup that includes hit movies like Annihilation and Sorry to Bother You; cult-favourite shows like Rick and Morty and This Is Us; and exclusive originals like Shrill and The Handmaid’s Tale.
Unlike Netflix, that has expanded internationally, Hulu’s library is strictly limited to viewers in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and U.S. military bases. That’s because Hulu doesn’t own international streaming rights for any of its shows and movies; it only holds the U.S. distribution licenses. If Hulu were to expand the availability of its content abroad, it would have to make new deals with distributors to acquire streaming rights in other regions — and that requires a lot of negotiating and money-spending.
There’s still a chance Hulu will go global. But until then, those attempting to watch Hulu from outside the U.S. will have to circumvent Hulu’s geo-restrictions with the help of something called a virtual private network, or VPN.
Do you need a VPN to watch Hulu?
To prevent users outside the U.S. from accessing its shows and movies, Hulu requires two things of its accountholders: a U.S.-issued form of payment and a U.S. IP (internet protocol) address — that’s the numerical ID containing information about your location and web activity that gets assigned to your device by your internet search provider, or ISP, when you connect to a local network. It’s like a house’s physical address, but for your computer/smartphone/tablet.
That IP address part is where a VPN comes into play. For the uninitiated, a VPN is a service that creates a safe, secure connection over the internet by routing your device’s traffic through its own private servers. Known as encryption, this process shields your personal information and online activities from the prying eyes of your ISP and — this is key — creates a temporary IP address that hides your true location.
You can probably guess where we’re going with this: If you’re trying to watch Hulu from outside the U.S., you can have a VPN spoof your IP address and trick Hulu into thinking you’re based in the U.S. Simple, right?
Actually, not so much. Because here’s the thing: Hulu isn’t dumb.
Does Hulu block users with a VPN?
Just like Netflix, Hulu prohibits its accountholders from using VPNs in an effort to protect its licensed content, and it’ll slap you with an error message if it thinks you’re trying to use one to watch its content. Its tactics are threefold:
- Hulu blocks anonymous IP addresses whose geographical location it can’t verify
- Hulu checks your IP address against its own blacklist of known VPN servers
- Hulu keeps a lookout for IP addresses with a large number of users. If there are too many people sharing any given server, Hulu will assume you’re all using a VPN and shut that shit down.
If a VPN provider wants to unblock Hulu for its users, it needs to steer clear of Hulu’s blacklist while maintaining a sizeable U.S. server network. These are no easy feats, so the list of VPNs that can consistently bypass Hulu’s ferocious firewall is pretty short.
What is the best VPN for watching Hulu?
Need help making sense of all this? Below, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of VPNs that are currently capable of unblocking Hulu and keeping you anonymous online. That way, you can make an informed decision on how to spend your hard-earned cash.
These are the best VPN for watching Hulu in 2022.