Let’s Talk About VPNs

January 1, 2021 — There was a time a few year back when many of your “Olympic” sport federations had a live stream on the internet that you could just pull up. It was great, and super easy to find your sport of choice and just hop online to watch live. Really, the best times for watching sports that really matter.

Unfortunately, television contracts for the Olympics and other Olympic sports have started spreading out various nations have been locked out of watching the live streams without a cable package. In the United States NBC has the TV rights to most any sport that’s in the Olympics, so even if they don’t intend on broadcasting all of the races, those races can still only be streamed either through the Olympic Channel’s website, Peacock TV or something like that. Not ideal  if you don’t have a cable package that doesn’t include those channels.

On top of that, some broadcasts streamed live through your cable provider lack commentary. The live downhill skiing, cross country skiing, biathlon, and luge events (among others) tend to have none of the live commentary that you get with the live streams through the various federations. If you want to hear Tim Singer tell you about the latest luge happenings, you’ll have to stream through the FIL’s website.

So what do you do about it? It’s actually quite simple: Get yourself a quality VPN. It used to be that getting set up with a VPN took a little bit of technical expertise but now it’s just as simple as installing any other program on your phone, tablet, or laptop. You set up an account, download and install software, and you’re ready to connect to a server in the country of your choosing.

As for the servers, that’s going to be a little bit of trial and error run based on what it is you’re wanting to watch. Some nations have almost no blocks (Ireland is generally pretty wide open), while others are locked down watertight (Germany, I’m looking at you). Each sport’s live stream should tell you where the live stream is geoblocked. At the bottom of this story are some nations that have worked well for streaming for me over the years. A quality VPN will also help you get around some geoblocking of other programming as well, but if we’re being honest I’ve never once used it for that.

There’s a LOT of VPN companies out there. Some are free, some cost money. If you just want to watch a few events, there’s no better out there than Hide.me VPN, they give you about a gig of streaming per month across a couple of devices which will get you through a few biathlon races or a handful of bobsled events.

For a more “unlimited” style option, I’ve used two VPN providers: Surfshark and PureVPN. Both have been great, but Surfshark has a better plan (it was about $60 for two years). Realistically, anything off this list of Best VPNs by CNET is probably fine, each have their own pros and cons as far as price, speed, and number of servers and countries.

So that’s the general gist of it. For me, personally, the cost of the higher end VPN has been well worth it to enjoy my favorite winter sports.

Stuff I Enjoy on VPN (and where I connect)
IBSF Bobsled & Skeleton: http://youtube.com/ibsfsliding – Connect through Ireland or Netherlands
FIL Luge: https://video.fil-luge.org/index.html – Connect through Ireland or Netherlands
IBU Biathlon: https://www.eurovisionsports.tv/ibu/ – Connect through Ireland or Netherlands
UCI Cyclocross: https://www.youtube.com/user/ucichannel – Connect through South Korea