While most of the world is glued to Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Hulu, many people in India get their entertainment fix from a streaming service called Hotstar. However, the service is firmly entrenched behind geoblocks, so to make sure that the Indian diaspora can still get their Bollywood and cricket fix, we’ve put together this guide on how to watch Hotstar from anywhere.
We’ll talk a little more about what Hotstar offers below, but rest assured that getting into Hotstar from abroad is pretty easy if you use a virtual private network, and you won’t even have to settle for the watered-down U.S. version, either. In our rounds of testing we got the best results using ExpressVPN, so if you’re in a hurry because the match is about to start, follow this link and sign up.
If you’re in less of a hurry and want to know your full range of options when it comes to unblocking Hotstar, click on the section in the table of contents to the right. For the curious, we’ll talk a little more about Hotstar and geoblocks in the next section.
Why Is Hotstar Blocked?
If the term Hotstar is new to you, it’s basically India’s answer to Netflix. Instead of offering films and shows western audiences would recognize, however, it’s almost exclusively dedicated to the subcontinent’s twin obsessions of Bollywood and cricket.
Though Netflix does offer some Indian films — and even a few shows — Hotstar is really the go-to resource for fans of Indian cinema and sports. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Indian living abroad or a foreign fan, Hotstar has it. Not that cricket is the only sport on offer, badminton and kabaddi are on the slate as well.
However, much like every other streaming site out there, Hotstar offers a different selection depending on which country you access the site from. This is due to licensing issues — broadcasters want to make sure they wring every penny out of what they produce and air — meaning you will get a different welcome screen than the one above if you access it from, say, the States.
The crummy part of the American Hotstar is that you need to sign up, which costs you $10 per month, the Indian version is free except for premium content, which you need to pay 1000 rupees ($15) per year for. Still that’s a better deal than the screen you get when accessing Hotstar from Europe.
With the bad news out of the way, let’s take a look at the good news.
How to Unblock Hotstar
Unlike the famed Netflix VPN ban, getting around Hotstar’s geoblock is pretty easy. The service doesn’t seem particularly interested in keeping people from accessing the Indian version. We tried several of our best VPN providers and almost all got in, with the exception of a few services that have trouble spoofing IPs (most of them among our worst VPN providers).
For the uninitiated, a geoblock is based on your location, so all you need do is make it look like you’re accessing your site of choice from the “right” place. A VPN can easily do that by letting you access the internet through a server in another country. As a bonus, it will also hide your online activity thanks to something called a VPN tunnel, securing your online presence.
This article is, for example, being written from Bosnia and Herzegovina, but the IP address reads like one in Mumbai, a city this writer has never stepped foot in.
Some services, like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Hulu actively go after VPN services and block their associated IP addresses, meaning few services reliably get into those sites. In our case, however, Hotstar doesn’t have that problem, meaning you’ll have far less trial and error issues when trying to watch cricket or Lagaan.
The Best VPN for Hotstar
The above is not to say that all services are created equal. For example, some VPNs are simply too slow to stream content properly or will not offer the kind of security we like to see.
The downside to VPNs is that they cost money, or at least the good ones do. There are some free ones out there, but the best free VPNs will limit how much traffic you can route through them, while the worst will simply sell your data to make a few bucks.
That said, using a VPN needn’t break the bank, either. Most of our best VPN for India picks will give you a multi-year deal for a reasonable amount of money and all are guaranteed to work for accessing Hotstar. Our favorite of the bunch, however, is ExpressVPN thanks to its speed and ease of use — though it is a bit pricey. Read our full ExpressVPN review for more on this service.
No matter which service you opt for, all you need to do is sign up, install the app or client and then select a server in India. Once connected, go to www.hotstar.com and, presto, you’re good to go. Another upside to using a VPN is that almost all providers will have a smartphone or tablet app as well, meaning you can unblock Hotstar on mobile, too.
Watch Hotstar with Kodi
Not that VPNs are the only way to watch Hotstar from outside of India. Another great option is to use Kodi. If you’re unfamiliar with this service, check out our full Kodi guide for the basics, chances are that you’ll love it.
We’ve looked around at several of the best Kodi repos, and the below one seems to work the best for most people. We’ll use SuperRepo for this guide.
- Open Kodi and go to your settings (gear icon)
- Click on “file manager”
- Click “add source” from the left menu
- Select “none” and type “http://srp.nu/“
- Click “done” and scroll to the empty bar and enter “SuperRepo”
- Select “OK”
- Go back to your Kodi homescreen and select “add-ons”
- Select the “add-on browser,” (open box icon) then “install from zip file”
- Next, choose “Super Repo,” “Krypton,” “all” and “superrepo.kodi.krypton.all-x.x.x.zip”
- Select from “install from repository,” and then “SuperRepo All,” then go to “video add-ons” > “Hotstar” > “install”
- Wait as it will take some time to enable the add-on
- Go back to the home screen and select “videos” and “add-ons”
- Choose Hotstar
That should have you watching the cricket in no time. For extra security, you may want to check out our piece on the best VPN for Kodi, too.
Though there are other ways to unblock Hotstar, the methods above are almost guaranteed to work and will keep your presence safe, to boot. Proxies, another crowd favorite among the unblocking crowd are often unreliable and never safe, so we hesitate to recommend them.
Do you have any other tips or tricks for watching Hotstar from anywhere? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.