How To: Watch Hulu in Canada. The Definitive Guide.

Update, November 6th, 2010:

The method in this post no longer works. But, I’ve found a new workaround.

Disclaimer: The method described below almost certainly violates Hulu’s Terms of Use. I do not know the legal ramifications of breaking these TOU. I am not suggesting that you actually follow my fictional instructions.


I’ve finally cracked the nut on watching Hulu in Canada. At the time of writing, this method is 100% successful; I’m confident the method also works internationally, but I have not been able to get any corroboration. Before you read on, let me warn you that these instructions require basic tinkering skill on OS X, Linux and routers; advanced tinkering skill on Windows. At the bare minimum, you’ll need to know how to open a command prompt/terminal window in your operating system.

Instructions:

  1. Open Firefox. The workaround requires a Firefox add-on, so unfortunately the method is Firefox-only at this point in time.
  2. Install the “Modify Header” add-on, download it here: http://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/967
  3. Configure the add-on using the instructions I previously posted for watching Comedy Central in Canada. Here’s a quick reference image: http://imgur.com/Feb4 VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: The IP address referenced in the instructions “12.13.14.15” is being actively blocked by Hulu, You’ll need to replace it with a known American IP address. Ask an American friend for their IP or see Appendix A for instructions on how to find a US IP address. The address you use should not affect the method, it’s merely being used to trick a portion of Hulu’s geo-location algorithm.
    NOTE: These settings interfere with other sites that you WANT thinking you’re from Canada. You can always disable the rule in modify headers when not using Hulu.
  4. Block port 1935.
    This is the real breakthrough I came across. Turns out Hulu’s flash video player attempts a direct connection to your computer via the RTMP port to verify your real IP.  When you block this port it the falls back to HTTP allowing the video to play. Blocking ports is fairly straightforward on Mac and Linux, but looks to be somewhat difficult on Windows. See Appendix B for complete Port blocking instructions for all OSes.

Notes:

  • If you are able to navigate Hulu.com, load a video and watch the commercial but then get a blank player or an error message afterwords, then you have not properly blocked the port.
  • If you are not even able to navigation Hulu.com, you have misconfiguration the modify headers plugin, or you are using an IP address Hulu is actively blocking.
  • This work-around also works for other sites that have video players powered by Hulu on the backend. Discovery Channel for example.
  • It’s likely that non-Hulu-related restricted video websites may use a similar RTMP verification method will not function. You may want to disable the Port block when not watching Hulu. See Appendix C for instructions.
  • It’s unclear whether the holes that allow this workaround are a bug or a feature. My guess is that closing them my results in certain IP on US soil to be blocked inadvertently.

Thanks to Jason Pollock, who’s slashdot comment pointed me in the right direction; and the Reddit /r/Canada community – especially MarshallX and got_milk4 – who helped me out with my initial instructions.


Thoughts about Hulu:

In the past I’ve had some limited experience checking out Hulu in hotel rooms on trips to The States, I’ve generally been impressed by it and I’m sure I’ve written about my impressions in previous TV posts. After a few days of “real world” usage, I’ve changed my mind a little. I no longer see Hulu as this Holy Grail of online TV watching experiences that Canadians could only dream of. It’s not a real alternative to torrenting and it’s only somewhat better than Rogers On Demand or the various individual Canadian network TV experiences.

The selection of available shows is (I hesitate to say “terrible,” Hulu has a metric tonne of content) not great, I was not able to find full episode of any recently aired show I wanted to watch. As far as I could tell, if the show is new Hulu only has short clips. On the other hand, I was able to find full series of shows I’d have difficulty finding in torrents or elsewhere online – like Sliders and Firefly. Hulu’s movie selection is not even worth mentioning.

Aside from the selection, I was astonished by the amount of ads. Full length shows typically have a 15-90 second pre-roll ad, plus network ID, plus 15-60 second interstitial ads during the show at broadcast TV; due to the heaps of praise Hulu generally receives in the Tech media, I was under the impression that they served little to no advertising. Granted it’s less than regular TV, but more than I’d accidentally watch on a PVR and it’s more than the 0 I’d see in a torrent.

The TV industry needs to find a better way to make money.


Appendix A. How to find a US IP address.

As I mentioned above in step 3, the X-Forwarded-For header requires a valid US IP address. It’s best if you use a unique-ish IP address, instead of the ones listed in my example. There are 2 simple ways to find a US IP address.

Method 1)
Ping a known US domain name, record the result. For example:

PING google.com (74.125.95.104): 56 data bytes

Downside: it’s hard to know for if the server that responds is actually located in the USA. If it works, run with it.

Method 2)
Pick a random valid IP address for a known US Organization. A few examples:
AT&T: 12.0.0.0-12.255.255.255, 32.0.0.0 – 32.255.255.255
MIT: 18.0.0.0-18.255.255.255
Xerox: 13.0.0.0-13.255.255.255

Downsides: none

Appendix B. Blocking Ports.

This is the tricky part. If you have a router or firewall that gives you a simple interface for blocking ports, I’d suggest using it, rather than OS-level configuration. Anyways, here are the instructions for various OSes:

Mac OS X:

sudo ipfw add 0 deny tcp from any to any 1935
sudo ipfw add 0 deny udp from any to any 1935

Third-party firmware routers (Tomato, DD-WRT, OpenWRT):

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp --dport 1935 -j DROP
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p udp --dport 1935 -j DROP

Windows XP, Vista, 7:
See section 3 of MarshallX’s stellar Google doc for instructions. Based on comments I’ve seen on the Reddit post, this method is a little finicky.

Linux:

iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 1935 -j DROP
iptables -A INPUT -p udp --dport 1935 -j DROP


Appendix C. Undoing the Block.

Mac OSX:

If these are the only firewall rules you’ve ever added:

sudo ipfw delete 00100
sudo ipfw delete 00200

If you’ve got other rules in the firewall run:

sudo ipfw list

Output will look similar to this:

00100 deny tcp from any to any dst-port 1935
00200 deny udp from any to any dst-port 1935
65535 allow ip from any to any

Use that first number as the ID for the ipfw delete command.

Windows: Delete the policies and filters you created (the ones with “Hulu” in the name).

Linux: you’re on your on. I think you run the same commands you use to block the ports, instead of “DROP” use “ADD”. But I can’t guarantee that.

64 thoughts on “How To: Watch Hulu in Canada. The Definitive Guide.

  1. This indeed worked yesterday on hulu.com. It's not working now, maybe Hulu changed their way of cross-checking. It is working in other hulu based channels like Discovery Channel, maybe they are using an older version?
    This is confirmed to work on BBC.com ABC.com and some others.

  2. This hack is pure effing genius! I was wondering if you knew what was necessary to fix the hack? It seems like they've figured out the 1935 part…

  3. I was noticing that too. Odd thing is, it works now WITHOUT the port block (for me, on mac).

  4. I tried blocking the ports on the mac, blocking them on the router, block them on both, and still can't figure it out. It's like Hulu knows all my moves before I make 'em.

  5. I am getting errors watching – I haven't changed anything since it worked. Anybody experiencing this effect too? I get: “Sorry we are unable to strem the video. Please check your internet connection and try again.”

  6. I am getting errors watching – I haven't changed anything since it worked. Anybody experiencing this effect too? I get: “Sorry we are unable to strem the video. Please check your internet connection and try again.”

  7. That will add another rule, the DROP rule will still be there.

    Change the -A at the beggining to a -D (delete), leave the rest of the line the same, ie:

    Add rules:
    iptables -A INPUT -p tcp –dport 1935 -j DROP
    iptables -A INPUT -p udp –dport 1935 -j DROP

    Delete Rules:
    iptables -D INPUT -p tcp –dport 1935 -j DROP
    iptables -D INPUT -p udp –dport 1935 -j DROP

  8. OK guys – I have a problem. I have followed the directions but I still cannot see Hulu. I am running Windows XP Professional 2002 SP3 on a virtual machine.

    I did the Modify Header part right because I can now see Comedy Central.

    But, when I tried to follow MarshallX’s steps for blocking the port I have a discrepancy. In Section C it says to set both the source and destination IP addresses to “Any IP Address.” When I try that I get an error that says “The source and destination address cannot be the same.”

    I tried googling this error but with no luck. Any ideas?

    Thanks

  9. Aug 17/10

    Hi, I tried it today but no luck …. are they’re any updates for this or is it just child-proof which is why I can’t get teh little sod to work !? (grin)

    Cheers’
    Dave

  10. I haven’t been able to make this work no matter what I do. Am I doing something wrong or has Hulu caught on?

  11. Sweet deal – VPN Authority also worked great for me. Recommend them for their customer support and super cheap too! Thanks!

  12. Thank you!! VPN Authority worked awesome for me… the customer service was A+ and was super easy to connect to.

    Best part is that I get my HULU and Pandora!! highly recommended!!! 🙂 just my 2 cents.

  13. Thank you for this. Worked amazingly. I’d highly recommend them as well. The customer service and price is phenomenal.

  14. Yeah, unfortunately I’ve been getting some sketchy results with this method. Haven’t tracked down why. I suppose it’s possible that Hulu is doing some sort of blacklisting.

  15. Agreed with Ryan that this site costs a bit of money, but it’s a decent service and faster (i.e. no buffering time) when compared with the free services.

    Not sure why the link to the site was removed .. took me a while to find it online, but it’s pretty simple http://www.vpnauthority.com for those interested. 🙂

  16. Ya – paying for something that’s free in the states.. but it’s such a small price for not having to live in the states. 🙂 w00t w00t!

    i’m on the service and it works! Just finished my first month and will be extending for a year!

  17. Hi Ryan,

    I couldn’t find your contact information but I launched a
    new service that will allow people to watch Hulu outside of USA. It has
    all the benefits of VPN and minus the drawbacks of VPN as well. It’s
    called UnoTelly (http://www.unotelly.com). I will be greatly appreciated if you can try it out!

  18. cool – thanks Marty! tried hulu for the first time. I must say it’s damn impressive.

  19. I thought it is going to be some boring old post, but it really compensat for ours time. I will posted a link to the article on our blog.

  20. Ok as of 5 minutes ago a good free vpn service to access hulu in canada is raptor vpn. If u have trouble getting email while using it, find out if you can secure your smtp connection, if not, you can sign up for a free email account with gmail. Gmail works with programs like outlook and windows mail. Raptor appears to be 100% free, and limitles. Any questions or comments feel free to email me at [email protected].
    Enjoy

  21. Agreed – hotspot shield works. It’s a small program, and can be turned off and on at your leisure.

  22. Dude I did all what you said and it doesn’t work anymore 🙁 I’m writing this comment on March 15, 2012. Please fix it if you can.

  23. Haha, I love that you’re asking me to fix something that Hulu has done. Brilliant. You could try the newer method that I linked to at the top of the post: http://ohryan.ca/blog/2010/11/06/how-to-watch-hulu-in-canada-a-new-method/ But I don’t think that one works anymore either. 

    Sorry. 

  24. I
    am a big fan of US netflix and hulu. Unfortunately when I moved from US
    to canada, I was disappointed  to see the level of difference between
    the broadcasting of these channels. Then I decided to take any vpn
    service subscription and tried so many but one of my net friend told me
    about the backdoor access for http://www.unotelly.com/unodns and now I can
    watch all US channels without any cost. For this you just need to change
    your dns settings with the below settings, refresh and get started.

    Primary DNS to 23.21.182.24
    Secondry DNS to 184.169.139.227

    Enjoy !! Do let me know if feels any trouble in launch.

  25. From my experience proxies are not very reliable and kind of slow. VPN services tend to do a better job overall and are somewhat more safe.  I`m using this VPN service for some time now, it`s pretty fast and user friendly.

  26. I’ve always watched Hulu using Blockless.com service. It’s way affordable than other VPN and gets you the best streaming speed as well.

  27. I’ve been using Jumpto, I access Pandora , hulu and many other sites that as a Canadian are restricted. Try it

  28. I can watch hulu at Ottawa using EstoyEn service, i have been enjoying it at my Android, AppleTV and PS3,Very good service and low prices.

  29. This guide is really helpful and i have learned a lot after reading well i am also using vpn which is one of the best unblocking tool for me. By using this tool i can easily unblock which is blocked for me also i can make my PC more secure by online threats..I have windows setup in fact most of the people have windows setup so here they can go for getting best vpn for windows. http://www.vpnranks.com/windows-vpn/

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