Pandemic restrictions are inconvenient, but if you have lots of content to stream you can get through lockdowns with your sanity intact. NBC’s new streaming service Peacock has 30 Rock, SNL and all kinds of other great titles to binge through, but it isn’t officially available in Canada yet. While NBC irons out the deals it needs to make to expand, you can use a VPN to access it now. The best option available is ExpressVPN. Keep reading to learn how it works and how to use it.
ExpressVPN: the best VPN for accessing Peacock from Canada
ExpressVPN provides a reliable means of watching Peacock from Canada and other countries that are outside of its official area of availability.
We know for sure that it works because this VPN is one of the only ones that actively checks to make sure that its users have continual access to Peacock and other streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and others.
One particularly nice thing about ExpressVPN is that its customer support team is trained to meet the needs of geo-hoppers. Geo-hoppers are people that use VPNs to access streaming services that they can’t ordinarily get to because of regional restrictions.
[callout id=“15845” placeholder=getpeacockcanada]
Core ExpressVPN benefits
- There’s a free trial. ExpressVPN is confident enough in its services that it’s willing to let anyone try it out for all full 30 days. If for whatever reason you don’t like it, you can get your money back. Other VPNs aren’t confident enough to offer that kind of guarantee because their software is buggy, they have frequent server issues or they have other kinds of quality of service problems.
- Discounts and deals are available. If you’re willing to pay in advance, the monthly cost decreases all the way to $8.32 per month. The month-by-month plan is only $12.95. Click here to find out more.
- Many VPN servers to choose from. If a VPN service doesn’t have enough servers to support its users, slowdowns and connectivity issues begin to become a problem. We’ve didn’t experience any issues like this when testing ExpressVPN.
- Speed check. Before you log onto a server, you can perform a scan of all servers to see which one has the lowest latency. Your physical distance from the server will affect that statistic, but other factors may come into play as well. The server scan feature lets you know what kind of performance you can expect in advance.
- Knowledgeable support staff. Just type your question into the chat, and you’ll get an answer right away. Other VPN services we’ve tried don’t care as much about customer support.
- Expanded account sharing flexibility. ExpressVPN recently expanded the number of devices that you can connect through one account at the same time. You can now share one account with up to five devices at once. That’s more than enough flexibility to accommodate the needs of people with large families.
The benefits listed above provide compelling reasons to rely on ExpressVPN for accessing Peacock and other American streaming services from Canada. In addition to Peacock, ExpressVPN is one of the only streaming services around that works with Hulu.
Related: How to Watch Hulu or Hulu Plus in Canada – Updated for 2020
You can even use ExpressVPN to bring up different lists of content in Netflix. Netflix is available just about everywhere, but the type of content you get changes depend on your location. Since you can be virtually anywhere in the world with ExpressVPN, you can use it to get a whole lot more out of your Netflix subscription.
Related: How to Watch American Netflix in Canada – Updated for 2020
How to get Peacock in Canada with ExpressVPN
Step 1: Sign Up for ExpressVPN
Visit the ExpressVPN website to sign up. The website looks like this:
Step 2: Download and Install the ExpressVPN Client
ExpressVPN’s client is not hard to install at all. All you have to do is sign up then get the installer. Install it and follow the instructions to sign in, and you will be able to see the user interface of the ExpressVPN app, which looks like this:
Step 3: Connect to a Peacock-compatible server
You can choose an American server to watch Peacock by clicking the 3 dots next to the currently-selected server — in the above screenshot, that’s New York.
For the best results, just select the server that’s the closest to you. If you want to watch Peacock without cable in Toronto, for example, you’ll probably want to choose New York or another nearby server in the Northeastern US for the lowest latency and best bandwidth.
Once you’ve chosen your server, just click the big “power” button to connect. This will take a few seconds, then you’ll see the following screen:
That’s it! For all intents and purposes, you’ll appear to be located in the United States when you access the internet. This will give you the ability to access Peacock and many other restricted services that are normally only available inside the United States.
What are other publications saying about ExpressVPN?
Here are just a few positive comments from other web publications that have reviewed ExpressVPN.
“ExpressVPN is one of those companies that’s going to battle with Netflix.” – PCWorld
“ExpressVPN offers a premium service, with well-crafted clients, an ample choice of locations and reliable performance.” – Techradar
“ExpressVPN has a wide distribution of servers and a slick interface, and it allows BitTorrent and other P2P services.” – PCMag
Other ExpressVPN use cases
Internet privacy is becoming an increasingly important issue. According to a recent report from Pew Research Center, Americans feel “concerned and confused” about the way their personal data is handled by the services they use when they access the web. 62% of the respondents surveyed said that they felt they had no control over their personal data at all. The situation is largely the same in Canada. 92% of all Canadians polled by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada have internet privacy concerns.
VPNs like ExpressVPN provide an easy way to stop companies and nefarious bad actors like hackers from collecting your data. If you use a VPN to access the web and avoid giving out your information, you’ll have a better chance of keeping your sensitive data secure.
If you’ve been sloppy with your personal information, odds are high that it’s already out there on the web. Time writer Joel Stein felt he had made good decisions in this regard– until he allowed security expert Michael Fertik to try to look him up online. Fertik was able to obtain his social security number just three hours later.
Avoiding WiFi-based hacks
Once your data has leaked into the dark corners of the internet, it can be bought and sold via all manner of underground exchanges. Fraudsters equipped with the right information can set up bank accounts and take out credit cards in your name.
One common identify theft hack involves the hijacking of public WiFi connections. Hackers set up fake WiFi hotspots, which give complete access to the computers of those that don’t have any protection. But if you connect through a VPN like ExpressVPN, you’ll be immune to those kinds of traps.
What’s so great about Peacock, anyway?
The free subscription plan
One of the best things about it is the free ad-supported subscription option. None of the other major streaming services offer any type of free membership plan. That’s a significant advantage, especially for people who have lost their jobs because of COVID-19 and are trying to trim their entertainment expenditures.
Popular shows are available
For whatever reason, the 90s sitcom Friends has become one of the hottest TV shows in the streaming world. That show is available through Peacock, as is The Office. Many classic NBC TV shows from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s are also available, like Murder, She Wrote, 21 Jump Street and many others.
With Peacock, you get access to live channels in addition to all those on-demand shows listed above. You can catch up with what’s happening around the world via NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC, and E! News.
The addition of live sports action adds a whole additional dimension to Peacock. You can watch Premier League soccer, U.S. Open and Women’s Open tennis matches and NFL Wild Card Playoff Game as well as select events from the upcoming Olympics games.
On-demand recordings of previously aired sports matches are also available. Triple Crown horse races are available via VOD, as are all kinds of sports series and documentaries. These include Tiger Woods Chasing History, 1968, I Am Ali, Dream Team, Being Evel, Feherty, Willie and others.
Related: Peacock Review in 2020 – Will Free Cut Through the Clutter?
Why is Peacock blocking Canadians?
Aren’t paying subscribers good for business? Why would Peacock or any American streaming service try to stop Canadians from signing up? The answer to these questions has to do with licensing. It often takes a while for American streaming services to sign the necessary deals that allow them to expand into Canada.
Technology blog iPhone in Canada recently reached out to Peacock to find out if the streamer would ever make its way to the Great White North. The answer was: yes, but not immediately. The representative that was contacted said that sometime “down the road,” Peacock will make its official debut.
While the executives hash out the details of how licensing will work, anyone with an ExpressVPN account can sign up for Peacock immediately. All you need is an email address to sign up for the free, ad-supported version of the service. No credit card is required.
How is Peacock blocking Canadians?
Peacock is likely using the same simple method that other streaming services use when they try to erect geographic boundaries around their content. To understand how that works, you have to know a little bit about the underlying infrastructure of the internet.
Every machine on the internet has a number called an IP address. IP addresses are like postal addresses in that they help data flow from one point to other. Without IP addresses, the internet couldn’t work because it would be impossible to distinguish one computer from another.
Your computer receives an IP address each time it connects to the internet. Your internet service provider assigns one to you so that you can interface with the rest of the world. The IP address you get isn’t just a random number. It indicates your general position on the planet. Each part of the world has its own range of IP addresses.
When streaming services like Peacock want to stop people from certain places from connecting, all they have to do is block out all the IP addresses that correspond with those regions.
Fortunately, these kinds of simple blocks are very easy to side step. All you have to do is gain access to a different range of IP addresses. You can do this simply and easily with ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN’s United States-based servers provide American IP addresses to whoever connects to them.
Can Peacock block VPNs?
If NBC wanted to, they could simply identify all of ExpressVPN’s servers and add them to their list of blocked IP addresses. However, doing this would require a lot of effort on their part. NBC would have to detect and block every single VPN provider for the countermeasure to work.
Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services have tried to set up anti-VPN countermeasures, but these haven’t been very effective. Once a VPN provider realizes that it’s been blocked, all it has to do is change the IP addresses that it uses.
There just isn’t much a streaming service can do about VPNs other than ignore them.
Alex Munkachy is a freelance writer, game developer and hobby robotics enthusiast. You can find his blog about robotics news and reviews at robotfanatics.com.