After Netflix, Hulu is one of the most popular streaming video services available. Three major US television networks–Fox, ABC, and NBC–joined forces to create Hulu. It includes a wealth of content from other networks including Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, FX, SyFy, PBS, Style, and Cartoon Network. Most TV episodes appear on Hulu the day after they air, much faster than Netflix.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that Hulu looks the other way on proxy users just because it’s not as popular as Netflix. All of the content is strictly limited to residents of the US and Japan. If you try to access video on Hulu from outside those two countries, the site will prevent you from watching.
Hulu’s VPN ban is even more advanced than Netflix’s firewall. A VPN, or virtual private network, encrypts all the internet traffic heading to and from your computer and routes it through a server in a location of your choosing. This can make it appear to Hulu as though you are located in the United States, which gives you access to all the shows.
But Hulu, along with many other online streaming channels, now blocks connections from known VPN servers. IP addresses on these servers are shared by dozens and even hundreds of users at once. This adds a layer of anonymity but makes it pretty obvious to Hulu what’s going on. Trying to watch Hulu with a normal VPN results in this message:
“Based on your IP address, we noticed you are trying to access Hulu through an anonymous proxy tool. Hulu is not currently available in the US. If you’re in the US, you’ll need to disable your anonymizer to access videos on Hulu.”
For this reason, not just any VPN will do. Some VPNs offer private IPs for an added cost, but a better option is to use a VPN that employs obfuscation technologies. Obfuscation helps prevent a VPN from being recognized by Hulu. The best VPNs for Hulu typically have a few servers each that can bypass the proxy ban. Just contact customer support to ask which servers can access Hulu.
Below we’ve curated our top five VPNs that work with Hulu based on the following criteria:
- Not blocked by Hulu
- Fast enough to stream HD video
- Plenty of locations in the United States
- Fast customer support
Best VPNs for Hulu
ExpressVPN, which offers a risk free 30 day money back guarantee, always has a few servers that work with Hulu. To find out which, just go to their website and ask a customer support representative on the live chat. Live support is available 24/7, every day of the year. ExpressVPN connections are extremely stable and bandwidth is more than enough to stream Hulu shows in top quality. Several server locations are available across the United States. Note that we did have to disable IPv6 in order for it to work. Find instructions on how to do that below. Update: ExpressVPN have offered our readers 3 extra months free on 12 month packages here.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN here.
LiquidVPN’s VPN server addresses haven’t been snubbed out by Hulu yet. Even if it did, the service provides a modulating IP connection that changes your IP periodically, which in theory should bypass the firewall. Liquid ranks near the top when it comes to speed. There’s no live support, but we received a response to our ticket within 30 minutes during testing. Update, October 14, 2016: There is currently a 20% discount on all plans here, after selecting your plan add the code “COMP20” at checkout and save 20% on your chosen package.
Read our full review of LiquidVPN here.
Buffered accessed Hulu without a hitch when we tested it out. With only two server locations to choose from in the United States–East Coast and West Coast–there’s not a lot of trial and error that needs to be done. Speed is fast and stable. There’s no live customer support, but the company just beefed up its customer service team to respond to queries within four hours.
Read our full review of Buffered here.
NordVPN comes with a couple special features to help unblock geo-locked content. These include its trademark SmartPlay and the ability to hover over a server in the list to see what streaming channels can be accessed by connecting to it. In the case of Hulu, however, these did not work. After failing to get rid of the proxy error message on multiple supposedly Hulu-compatible servers, we contacted the live chat support. A minute later we were instructed to turn off SmartPlay and connect to a specific server. This did the trick and we were able to watch, though we wish the app’s features had worked.
Update, December 9, 2016: NordVPN currently running a deal with a huge 72% reduction on their 24 month plan here.
Read our full review of NordVPN here.
Both the L2TP and SSTP protocols on multiple US servers were able to access Hulu in our tests (OpenVPN is not supported on all servers). StrongVPN is a favorite low-cost option among users in China, making it a perfect option for Hulu subscribers in Beijing and Shanghai. Support is available 24/7 via ticket submission system.
There’s a 5 day money back guarantee and a 41% discount on the annual plan as standard, however you can get an extra 15% discount on the annual plan here and by adding the code ‘SAVE15’ at checkout.
You can read our full StrongVPN review here.
Can I use a free VPN to watch Hulu?
While you might get lucky and stumble onto a free VPN with a server that unblocks Hulu, the only reliable way to unblock it is with a paid VPN from the list above. Free VPNs don’t have the resources to change their server IP addresses and domains when they get blacklisted by a service like Hulu. So even if you find a magical free server, it probably won’t last long.
Furthermore, free VPNs tend to use slow, congested servers. Expect a lot of buffering and possible disruptions in service. Many free VPNs cap the maximum bandwidth or the total amount of data alotted per day or month, meaning you could get cut off in the middle of a show.
Finally, no VPN is truly free. Many free VPNs monitor users’ web traffic and mine the data, inject advertisements, place tracking cookies into your browser, and sell the information they dig up to advertising companies. Some have even been caught redirecting users to the wrong sites in order to make a quick buck. As the adage goes, if you don’t buy the product, you are the product.
VPNs to avoid with Hulu
VyprVPN IP addresses were blocked by Hulu last year and the company has yet to resolve the issue. We were not able to get past the proxy error message in our tests. Update December 29, 2016: VyprVPN now unblocks both the Hulu app and Hulu in a browser according to our latest tests. Make sure to clear your browser cache, hosted app data, and cookies. Disable IPv6. You can try if for free for 3 days here followed by your first month’s access half price after the trial.
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access states that unblocking geo-locked content is not one of its supported purposes, so it will not be able to unblock Hulu anytime soon.
How to disable IPv6
Even when using the VPNs on this list, there’s a chance you’ll still encounter an error message on Hulu instructing you to turn off your “anonymous proxy.” This is because the vast majority of VPNs still don’t protect against IPv6 leaks. While a VPN can route all your traffic requests through its own DNS servers and mask your IPv4 address, IPv6 addresses still get sent without being hidden. IPv6 serves the same purpose as IPv4, but contains a far wider range of possible IP addresses for internet-connected devices.
The solution is an imperfect but effective VPN block workaround for Hulu: disable IPv6. We say it’s imperfect because it would be better if everyone switched over to IPv6 because the IPv4 protocol is running out of unique IP addresses. Limiting yourself to IPv4 is bad for the long term health of the internet, but it won’t affect much else.
How to disable IPv6 on a Windows PC (Windows 10):
- Disconnect and close the VPN app
- Tap Windows Key+R to open the Run prompt
ncpa.cpland hit Enter to open your Network Connections
- Find the connection you are using, right click it, and select Properties
- On the Networking or General tab, uncheck the box that says “Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)”
- Click OK to save changes and close the Window
- Tap Windows Key+R and select Command Prompt (Admin), then hit Yes when asked if it’s okay for the program to make changes to your computer
- In the command prompt (black window), type
ipconfig /flushdnsand hit Enter.
- Reconnect to the VPN, refresh the Hulu page, and enjoy the video!
How to disable IPv6 on Mac OSX:
- Disconnect and close the VPN app
- Open the Apple menu.
- Choose System Preferences > Network > AirPort > Advanced
- Click TCP/IP.
- Click on the Configure IPv6 pop-up menu and select Off.
- Click OK and Apply (to apply the change).
- Reconnect to the VPN, refresh the Hulu page, and enjoy the video!
Paying for Hulu from outside the US
Hulu doesn’t just require that your IP address be in the United States. Payment must also come from the US. If you live outside of the country without a domestic credit card or PayPal account, this can be tricky.
There are a couple of solutions that reportedly work, though in the interest of being transparent we didn’t test any of these out.
- A prepaid card from this website costs about $20 plus however much credit you want to put on your Hulu account. After initially setting up the account, you can just buy Hulu gift cards on Amazon or elsewhere online for subsequent payments. Similar prepaid card options are available on eBay as well.
- EntroPay allows you to make payments online by setting up a prepaid virtual visa card. Users report that this cannot be used to make a payment directly to Hulu, but it can be used to set up a US-based PayPal account. The PayPal account can then be used to make payments on Hulu.
- StatesPay is another virtual credit card provider that costs $3.95 per month. In theory you should be able to just pay for the first month to set up the account and then use Hulu gift cards to make subsequent payments. The site is not accepting new sign ups as of the time of writing, however, so you might have to wait awhile before the service is available again.