How to watch HBO in Australia
Partnering up with Apple, HBO has recently launched its HBO Now, an on-demand streaming service which will complete with Netflix and the like.
It has got lots of people talking, mainly because it will be the only legal way to enjoy HBO exclusive content such as Last Week Tonight, True Detective, Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley as it gets aired, without requiring a cable subscription.
This was welcomed by those snubbed by HBO Go – an exclusive streaming service for HBO’s cable subscribers.
However, it will only be available to those living in the US, and this geo-restriction will remain for the foreseeable future.
But this doesn’t mean us Aussies have to abstain from enjoying this service completely. All you need is a bit of tech ingenuity and you’re all set to enjoy HBO now in Australia.
Get HBO Now in Australia
- First, you’ll need a US account on iTunes. Start by signing out of your existing account (if you have one that is), and scroll down to the bottom of the iTunes Store, then click on flag icon present in the lower right corner. This will let you pick the region / country you’re in – select ‘United States’.
- With your iTunes store showing American content, you must create a fresh account. The first part of this procedure will be rather standard, supply an email ID, a password and some security details. You’ll have to use an email address that isn’t already tied to an existing Apple ID, so you may want to create a new email account beforehand on Outlook or Gmail.
- Once you’re done, click on Continue and you will be directed to a payment information page. If you don’t have a US credit card, no worries, simply choose ‘None’. You will still have to provide a US billing address, which you can easily acquire through one of the bogus US address generator websites online.
- Next, you will be asked to verify the email address you have provided, which will simply be a matter of clicking on the link you receive in a confirmation email from Apple. Once that’s taken care off, you can begin to download apps from the US version of the App Store. We recommend doing this directly from your iPad or iPhone. It is likely that you’ll have to log out of your usual Apple ID on the device, which you can do by navigating to Settings, choosing ‘iTunes & App Store’, then ‘Apple ID’ and then tapping ‘Sign Out’. Once done, you should be able to supply your freshly created US Apple ID and get the HBO Now app from the store.
- Before you can actually open the app though, you’ll have to perform one more step. Sign up for a VPN or Smart DNS provider. This will let you mask your Australian location, and appear to be in the US to HBO Now’s servers. A VPN will give you a US IP so to speak, whereas a smart DNS will only alter the traffic for the desired website (HBO Now in our case), letting you use your other websites and services as usual. I personally prefer Unblock-US, an inexpensive smart DNS service that has excellent support, and a free 7 day trial to boot. Sign up for the trial from their website, supply the primary and secondary DNS values they provide to your desired device and log in to the Unblock-US service.
For an iOS device, you’ll need to go to the Wi-Fi pane and tap the blue ‘I’ next to the Wi-Fi network you’re connected to. Next, tap on DNS and input the DNS values that you’ve received from Unblock-US. You’ll also want to keep a backup of your existing settings if there are any, in case you have to revert back to them.
Remember that this only work with a Wi-Fi network – you won’t be able to change your DNS settings if you’re connected to a 3G or 4G mobile carrier network. You can apply these DNS settings to your home’s router as well, if you want to fake your US location from all connected devices – this comes in handy with other geo-locked services such as Hulu and Netflix.
- Having done that, fire up the HBO Now app and sign up. After the sign up process is completed, you will be able to see all the tantalizing HBO content the service has to offer, all on demand. Not only will you be able to enjoy smash hits such as HBO Game of Thrones, but also classics like The Wire, Deadwood, Carnivale and The Sopranos.
Even though we were only able to get the SD quality streaming, HBO Now also offers HD streaming capability. Perhaps it was a teething issue that we experience, or perhaps it was a limitation of our intern speeds. We tested the service in a web browser, an iPhone and through AirPlay on an Apple TV, but HD didn’t work.
Paying for your HBO Now Subscription
If you wish to pay for the service after the trial, you will have to do so via American iTunes gift cards, which you can purchase online from many retailers.
You will be emailed the codes for your purchased cards that you can supply to HBO Now for continued service. The cost of the service is USD 15 as of now, which equates to roughly AUD 18.
Remember, it’s a legal grey area
Using a smart DNS or VPN service to circumvent geo-restrictions lies somewhere on the border dividing legal and illegal. It may not be illegal, but it is frowned upon by most streaming service providers, including HBO and Netflix, since it leads to licensing conflicts.
Usually, service providers threaten a termination of service to dissuade people from accessing their geo-restricted services using tricks such as these, but to our knowledge, there has never been an incident where someone got their subscription cancelled because they were using a VPN/smart DNS subscription.
Regardless, you have been warned. Have fun watching HBO Now in Australia!