Updated – December 1st, 2015
Canada has been screwed over the American by broadcasters once again. Now Canadians can sign up for Amazon Prime and pay the same price as Americans to get free delivery on purchases with one notable difference: Amazon Prime in Canada does not include streaming video. You also can’t stream Amazon prime video in Europe or pretty much anywhere outside the us.
I am not sure what is the reason for this since the two countries share a common border and Canadians living close to the border, in cities like Windsor, can get over-the-air American TV. Twenty years ago Canadian broadcasters complained about DirecTV satellite service reaching Canada. The CBC and particular the French did not want American culture overwhelming their own. So DirectTV was banned in Canada. Still many Canadians bought illegal dishes.
Amazon Prime Instant Video is available in two markets so far: the USA and the UK. It competes with Netflix, except Netflix operates in many countries, offering both international and local programming and accepting payment in local currencies. But Netflix in the USA and UK do not have what Amazon Prime has, which is access to HBO.
Netflix is moving away from simply reselling content produced by others and is producing its own content like the wildly successful Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey, and lesser-known series like Lilyhammer, starting Steve Van Zandt, who is in Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band as also played a gangster in The Soprano. (He plays a gangster in Lilyhammer.) Netflix is was way out in front of Amazon Prime regarding original content. Amazon only has a couple of series including Alpha House starring the immensely popular John Goodman.
But now people can tune in to Amazon Prime to see older episodes of Wire, East Bound & Down, and Sopranos. Netflix does not have that. Neither service has many new movies either as those are bottled up in agreements with cable companies who do not want the online competition.
You can use VPN to watch Amazon Prime outside of the US and the UK. Even if your billing address for your credit card is outside the USA it will still work. Here is what happens when you try to sign up for Amazon Prime outside the USA or the UK. The message below from the USA store says the Amazon Prime free delivery service is only available in the USA and Puerto Rico, but it invites you to sign up anyway.
Amazon has always quietly helped you jump from one market to another while at the same time respecting copyright restrictions imposed by book publishers and DVDs. You are free to switch your Kindle from one country to another to buy books in different markets. Here is the screen where you can switch your Kindle to markets in the USA, UK, France, Spain, or Germany markets. Amazon is continuing its international expansion and is even ready to move into China. But it has announced no plans to offer streaming video anywhere else. The company is notoriously close-lipped and never reveals any news of that until they actually do that.
Here is what Amazon Instant Video looks like in the UK. As you can see Prime is available in British pounds, saving the British currency conversion fees, and the company has taken over the British LoveFilm streaming service.
Some of that they offer is below. I don’t see anything that the BBC offer there. The BBC puts its own content online there already.
Here is what the Amazon Prime USA service looks like;
As you can see, they have Downton Abbey, which is quite popular with Americans, who think anyone with an English accent is somehow sophisticated. Maggie Smith of course is sophisticated.
You don’t need a computer to watch Amazon Prime. You can watch it on the Nintendo Wii, Playstation, Xbox, and of course Kindle Fire.
How to Watch Amazon Prime outside the USA or UK
You need VPN to watch Amazon Prime outside of the markets where it operates. A proxy server is not going to work, as Amazon can easily detect that you are using that. Plus the IP address of proxy servers get blacklisted for people trying to spoof their location using that. A proxy server has one IP address. VPN servers have thousands of IP addresses.
What a VPN server does is allow you do is change your virtual location. When you connect to a VPN server in a different country, it gives you a new IP address. IP addresses are assigned by ISPs and the location of ISPs is part of the DNS information freely available on the internet. So you can always there where traffic is coming from by the IP address.
These companies have lots of servers in the UK and the USA, which is where you need to connect to watch Amazon Prime Instant Video. It does not matter when you are located, as you can connect to these VPN servers from any location.
To use VPN, you sign up with a VPN provider and then install their software on your smartphone, tablet, desktop, or laptop. You can also skip installing their software and configure the connection yourself as VPN is built into all of these devices. You just need to provide the server IP address and your user and password to connect. You might also need to enter what is called a shared secret, which is just a password used to encrypt your VPN traffic.
There are various options for using VPN on the Kindle Fire, Wii, Playstation. Some of these support VPN or you can share your connection through your notebook or desktop computer or set up what is known as a VPN router in your house.
What VPN protocol should you use? There are three options PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN. OpenVPN might be the best option as it uses the UDP protocol and not TCP to transmit data, so it could be faster. At least theoretically, while our testing shows it does not make much different. TCP is a back-and-forth conversion whereas UDP is one-way. You will just have to play around with different protocols and see what works best for you.
When you connect to VPN, you are going to achieve anywhere from 20% to 50% of your speed without VPN. There is no way around that as VPN uses encryption which by definition takes a little extra time to encrypt and decrypt the traffic. If a VPN server has too many people on it that makes the situation even worse as it is CPU-intensive. Many VPN companies will show you which of their servers are the least busy.
You need a minimum of 3 mbps speed to watch video with HD quality. Most streaming platforms are built to increase quality (meaning density) as speed increases, so 5 mbps or even faster is better.
So there you have some idea of how you can watch Amazon Prime using VPN and help cut the cord so we can all get rid of those horrible cable companies.