Showtime is one of the most well-known cable and satellite television networks in America, having been around since 1976. Since then it’s expanded to near-goliath status, reaching an estimated 30 million households in 2016. It’s also expanded it’s online-only offerings significantly, with the launch of sho.com – similar to HBO Now – as well as Showtime Anytime.
Unfortunately, Showtime is only available to those with a US IP address. People trying to log in from another part of the world won’t be able to access content. The best way to do this is via a VPN.
If you don’t want to read the rest of this article, here’s our list of the best VPNs that will unblock Showtime:
Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts all the traffic flowing to and from your device and tunnels it via an intermediary server. That makes it seem like you’re accessing the web from a location outside your current city. The software also makes it very difficult for ISPs, hackers, and surveillance agencies to monitor your internet behavior.
Signing up for and using a VPN is perfectly legal. Millions of people around the world access the web with a VPN and they’re not breaking any laws by doing so.
How do I use a VPN to unblock Showtime?
In this section, we’ll take you through a list of what we consider are the best VPNs that’ll work with Showtime flawlessly. They’re ranked on the following factors:
- Speed and stability of service
- Large number of server locations in the US
- Strong encryption standards
- Ability to unblock restricted content
- Apps for Android and iOS
- Ease of use
ExpressVPN occupies the top position in our list because it’s a fast, well-designed, and efficient product that’s easy to set up and has minimal downtime. Military-grade encryption protocols ensure your data is protected.
The company operates over 1,500 servers spread across 94 countries. The US occupies the bulk of locations in any one country with a total of 13 options. This means you shouldn’t find any problems when trying to connect to a local server there.
Privacy concerns are largely eased when you consider that ExpressVPN does not store any traffic logs. The only time the service retains some information is metadata about the date (not time) of connection, choice of server location, and total bandwidth used. Your individual IP address won’t be recorded under any circumstances.
This policy is further augmented with the fact that ExpressVPN is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands and therefore doesn’t have to comply with any mandatory data retention laws. It’s also out of the jurisdiction of western government agencies.
Encryption standards are stringent. The provider utilizes 256-bit AES-CBC as its default encryption protocol as well as both HMAC authentication and perfect forward secrecy. There’s an internet kill switch included, which the company refers to as a ‘network lock’. This feature will temporarily halt all web traffic if the connection drops.
Other than Showtime, ExpressVPN is able to unlock content on Netflix without any worries. It’ll also do the job with both Hulu and BBC iPlayer.
There are apps for both Android and iOS which makes it possible to stream Showtime on a handheld device. Desktop clients for Windows and MacOS are also available.
Here’s our review of ExpressVPN.
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IPVanish is a similar speedy VPN that has hardy encryption protocols and a world-class product overall. It is headquartered in the US – that might make some users skittish about privacy issues – but there’s an internal policy of not storing any data at all. This means no metadata pertaining to timestamps, server preferences, or bandwidth used.
The service streams HD video without any problems, making it a decent choice to unblock Showtime. There are a total of 850 servers spread across the globe with a gargantuan 350 present in the US alone.
Encryption standards are top-tier. IPVanish uses 256-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default, SHA512 authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2,048-bit key exchange with perfect forward secrecy. The latter feature is a neat piece of engineering whereby past browsing sessions remain encrypted even in the unlikely scenario of a hack. An internet kill switch is also included with all packages. Users will be pleased with the fact that it’s able to unlock content on BBC iPlayer too.
There are apps for both iOS and Android as well as desktop programs for Windows and MacOS.
Many users find it an excellent option for Kodi because it allows them to download the Android APK directly to their device. The interface is also remote control friendly for Kodi devices that lack a keyboard and mouse.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
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NordVPN comes highly-recommended because it’s been in the VPN business for over a decade, which has helped it build an extremely robust product.
Like IPVanish, NordVPN adheres to a zero-logs policy. No usage data of any sort is retained on servers. This policy has helped it avoid complying with official government requests to hand over user data. In one case authorities physically confiscated servers but there wasn’t any incriminating information that could help identify users.
The company operates a colossal 1,118 servers in 61 countries. The US alone houses over 800. It’s also possible to pick a server specifically for video streaming because Nord is one of the few providers that allows users to choose servers based specifically on what they’d like to do on the web.
NordVPN overcomes the Netflix VPN ban without breaking a sweat and is similarly compatible with both Hulu and BBC iPlayer.
Its encryption standards are considered to be among the best in the business. The company deploys the 256-bit AES protocol by default coupled with 2,048-bit SSL keys. DNS leak protection is enabled by default.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.
Here’s our full review of NordVPN.
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4. Cyberghost Pro
Cyberghost Pro is a no-frills VPN service that does the job adequately but doesn’t incorporate the same kind of customizable features as some of the other providers on this list. It’ll appeal to beginner users on a budget who don’t want to break the bank.
The company says it doesn’t log user behavior and browsing habits, so that should allay concerns related to privacy and security. It’s also headquartered in Romania so there aren’t any mandatory data retention laws to speak of. We haven’t noticed any complaints either.
Global servers number 1,084 and there are 214 in the US alone. Hence it shouldn’t be a problem to access Showtime.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop clients for Windows and MacOS.
The VPN service doesn’t work with Netflix, but is compatible with BBC iPlayer.
As for encryption standards, Cyberghost Pro uses 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default along with 2,048-bit RSA keys and MD5 HMAC authentication. These are considered stringent so no worries on this front. There’s an internet kill switch included, too.
Read our full review of Cyberghost Pro.
VyprVPN has a bit of a data retention policy – specifically “the user’s source IP address, the VyprVPN IP address used by the user, connection start and stop time, and total number of bytes used.”
But the company insists that it’ll store information only for 30 days and will use it simply to improve the product. VyprVPN also has some of the toughest encryption protocols in the market.
All connections are protected by the OpenVPN protocol, 256-bit AES encryption, 2,048-bit RSA keys without perfect forward secrecy, and SHA256 authentication. An internet kill switch is included by default.
If users want to pay extra they can avail the Chameleon ™ protocol, which further obfuscates your connection – making it even more difficult for your ISP to figure out that you’re using a VPN.
There are over 700 servers spread across the globe with eight locations in the US.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.
Read our full review of VyprVPN.
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Zenmate is best known for its free Chrome VPN extension but there’s also an option to upgrade to a paid package that offers a larger selection of servers and stringent encryption.
We found the service to be a bit mixed, however. It performed well on browsing and video streaming tests, but there were a bunch of DNS leaks. That’s disconcerting, especially if you’re examining from a privacy angle. Avail of a 14-day free trial so you can test it out and see if it works for you.
Premium packages offer a handy 1,000 global server locations. Connecting to servers in the US is an option but the company doesn’t specify how many are present there.
Encryption standards for the paid packages are adequate. It uses 128-bit AES encryption in conjunction with 2,048-bit RSA keys and SHA 256 for authentication. An internet kill switch is included.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as a desktop client for Windows and MacOS.
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Read our full review of Zenmate.
Should I use a free VPN to unblock Showtime?
There’s an overwhelming number of free VPNs available on the interwebs. They seem like a good option at the outset because there’s usually no credit card required at signup. However, we must warn you that you’ll probably receive a mere fraction of the same experience that paid options offer.
Free VPNs don’t offer the same kind of expansive server networks, robust encryption protocols, or unlimited bandwidth that are hallmarks of paid services. Weak encryption standards mean your connection won’t be stable at all times and bandwidth caps will definitely result in slow video streaming with noticeably inferior quality.
It’s important to remember that free VPN services aren’t charities by any means. They have to make money in order to pay for server maintenance, salaries, and other overheads. What’s the likely route of monetization? Unsuspecting users.
That’s the precise reason behind all the deluge of invasive advertisements that flood your screen every time you log onto a free VPN. In some cases free VPN services have also tracked user data and sold it for a profit. You’re putting your machine at a real risk of a malware infection too. That’s why we think it’s in your best interest to skip them.
Some VPNs to avoid
Other than the generic advice to avoid free VPN services, there’s also a few specific providers out there which we think you should stay away from. That’s because we believe VPN providers have a moral and ethical responsibility to safeguard your data at all costs. When that trust is violated we think it’s a red flag. After all, a major use case for signing up is to maintain anonymity on the web.
Here are three companies that haven’t kept user interests at the core of their philosophy:
Israel-based Hola had a well-known peer-to-peer VPN extension for Chrome. At one point it boasted a user base of almost 50 million. Unfortunately, it deployed the machines it was installed on as pawns in a massive botnet army.
What this meant was that a part of Hola users’ individual bandwidth was used to engage in things like Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, promoting pirated content, and distributing pornography. And that’s without any user consent whatsoever.
2. Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield is a well-known name in the VPN business because it’s been around for a long time and didn’t require a credit card at signup. But in July a privacy advocacy group accused the company of fudging details and engaging in unethical behavior. The complaint maintained that the provider forcefully inserted tracking cookies in user data and sold it to third-party advertisers. It went on to say that Hotspot Shield also hijacked legitimate HTTP requests by redirecting e-commerce traffic to partner domains. Every time a user typed in a request to a site like nike.com, he/she was navigated to another site where Hotspot Shield would earn profits if a sale went through.
It’s important to state that these are still just allegations and haven’t been proved in a court of law yet. The matter is currently being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission. But to avoid any untoward situation we think you should hold off from using Hotspot Shield until the company is able to prove its innocence.
There were some reports in the media a few weeks ago that a cyberstalking suspect was arrested after well-known VPN provider PureVPN handed over user details to law enforcement agencies. The company has a no-logging policy but that didn’t prevent it from collaborating with the FBI in order to identify Massachusetts resident Ryan Lin, believed to be stalking an unnamed 24-year-old woman.
Ryan, who shared a flat with the victim, was accused of hacking into her Apple iCloud and Google Drive accounts, downloading personal data, and using the information to blackmail her. He signed up for a VPN thinking that it would cover his tracks and make him untraceable for law enforcement authorities.
At Comparitech we certainly don’t condone using a VPN to flout laws or engage in egregious behavior. But we maintain that VPN providers need to be open and transparent with users. You can’t claim one thing and do another because that’s an obfuscation of the truth.
What do I do next after signing up for a VPN?
1. Choose a VPN service
We’ve shown six recommended options to unblock Showtime with a VPN but you will have to make the final decision. Some things to consider are how much it’ll cost on a monthly basis, whether you can avail a free trial before signing up, and how well the service performs on video streaming tests.
After you’ve made up your mind, just click on one of the links at the bottom of each mini-review, register for an account, and sign up with your credit card information.
2. Download the native software
Once the payment is successfully processed, you’ll receive a confirmation from the VPN company that has your login details. Now go ahead and download the apps for your phone or the relevant desktop client directly from the website and click install.
When the downloads are complete, clear the cookies in your web browser and restart your device.
3. Open the VPN app
Click on your VPN provider’s app after your device has rebooted. Input the login information sent to you by the company and select a server in the US.
4. Use Showtime normally
Wait a few seconds for the connection to be established – a successful connection should be indicated by a green notification icon in the taskbar or on the top of your smartphone screen. Open the Showtime app or website and use it normally.
Other than PCs, Macbooks, iOS, and Android, Showtime is also compatible with the following devices:
- Playstation Vue
- Amazon FireTV
These devices don’t support VPN apps by default, hence there’s no native software that you can install and get the job done. To overcome this problem we recommend leveraging the VPN on a virtual router. This is possible because most PCs that can connect to wifi are also capable of transmitting their own wifi signals – similar to how smartphones set up mobile wifi hotspots.
You can also set up a VPN on a physical router if the firmware supports it. One such firmware is DD-WRT, a free and open source option that works on a wide range of router models. Learn more about DD-WRT and the best VPNs for it here.
image: Showtime screen grab