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Eye on Demand | August 2, 2014

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How-To: Set-up an American Roku Box Outside the US

How-To: Set-up an American Roku Box Outside the US
Jo' Chambers

Got yourself one of those great new Roku boxes to watch US on-demand television, but not living in the US? No need to turn it into a paper weight just yet. Follow these easy steps and you can be watching Netflix, Hulu, or one of the many other US Channels on this fantastic little puck!

Novice smallAlthough accessing US television services through a Roku box is easy enough in principle to set up, there are a few hurdles that should be discussed before the process begins.

What do you need:

  1. A Roku box bought from the US. This is an important point as Roku has different firmware installed on each country’s device. So, if you bought one in the UK, that will not work for US channels and vice versa.
  2. Update: It is now possible to simply convert a UK Roku box to a US one using this method, at least on the Roku 3 model. We have tested this on the Roku 3, and it works perfectly. It can also be switched back to a UK Roku box by following this guide. We do not know if this works on all of the Roku range, especially the older models, so if you have had experience with this, please let us know.
  3. A compatible DNS service. It is important that your DNS service not only works with the Channels used by the Roku box, but also works during the set-up stage – not all do! This guide has been tested with Overplay’s SmartDNS service which works at both stages.
  4. A Router which you can configure the DNS settings. Normally this can be done on the device itself, but the Roku box is one of the few streaming platforms that do not allow any network configurations.

Overplay Smart DNS Device

You should also keep in mind that access to Roku’s US channels does not automatically gain access to all the channel’s services. Many channels such as Netflix and Hulu require monthly subscription payments, whilst others like Vudu have a pay-per-view model. These fees, charged directly to the service provider, are on top of any DNS service fees.

 

roku-3-with-headphones

Step 1: Sign-up to a fully compatible DNS service.

A DNS service to access Roku’s US Channels is only required when outside of the United States. If you have already completed this step you can of course skip to the next one, but it is worth pointing out that your choice of a DNS service is vital to ensure this process works successfully. Only DNS services that also function at the set-up stage for Roku devices will work.

Step 2: Configure your router for the DNS Service.

There are just far too many different routers out in the wild for me to give detailed instructions for each one here, so I can only provide a basic guide.

  • First, check your router’s manual. This will explain how to log into your router to make the required configurations. It may be worth doing this before you purchase a Roku box from the US to ensure you can access it from outside America.
  • Log into your router as administrator.
  • Look for a setting that allows manual DNS addresses to be added. This may be hidden behind an advanced tab or setting. Some routers have this under their DHCP settings, others under INTERNET or even an obvious DNS tab or page. Some very basic routers don’t even allow this sort of configuration, which is why it is important to check this first.
  • If you use Overplay’s service, use the DNS addresses they provide from here.
  • After you have changed the DNS configuration to match your new DNS addresses, test the service. Effectively any device on your home Network will now work with your new DNS service. Test this through a known service that is otherwise blocked on a computer browser. (i.e. Hulu if you are outside of the US) If it works and you can play the videos, then the test should have been successful.
Alert: Unless you are a dab hand at networking, take care when making any changes on your router. Although it is unlikely you will permanently damage anything, if you start deleting or changing other fields, it could prevent you from connecting back to the internet. A wise move is to note down (or take a photo with your phone) any changes you make so it is easier to return things back to how it was if there are problems.

Step 3: Create your Roku Account.

Yes, create the account at Roku.com NOW. It is important to do this after you have the DNS service set up. This is a point where many people get stuck, as they often have an account previously set up at Roku and yet they cannot access the US channels.

If you already have an account with Roku set up prior to configuring the DNS servers in your router or the computer where you created the account, close/cancel the Roku account and create a new one from scratch.

Roku setup

When you are at the second stage of the Roku account set-up, you must enter a valid US Zip code and the country must be set to the United States.

Step 4: Powering up the Roku box.

Ideally, you have not rushed into powering up the Roku box. If this is the case, now is the time to remove the Roku box from it’s packaging, and connect it up according to their instructions.

Opps: If you have already tried to connect the Roku box not quite according to these instructions, you may have to perform a factory reset. This is pretty easy. Either follow the instructions provided in the manual which involves using a paperclip or other small item to press the physical reset button, or try this method: Press Home 5x, then FFW 3x then REW 2x – make sure you only select the first option, Factory Reset, and not mess about with other settings.

Step 5: Follow the Roku Setup Procedure.

Now, just follow the set-up instructions on your television screen that are prompted by your Roku device. This will include pairing your remote and connecting to a network. It goes without saying that you must connect to the same network which you have configured your DNS service.

Tip: Sometimes the Roku remote does not pair by itself, especially if you have performed a factory reset. If this happens to you, simply open the back of your remote’s battery compartment and press/hold the small button for approx. 3 seconds. The pairing process should begin.

Step 6: Join the Roku box to your Roku account.

In the last stage of the setup, you will be asked to join the Roku box with your Roku account.

  • Make sure you have your computer on, and connected to the same router with the DNS addresses configured.
  • The Roku box will assign you a short code.
  • Select “Link a Device” from the main Roku account page on your computer.
  • Enter the code.

And that’s it. If you are successful, the US channels should now become available. You know things are working correctly when you can see US channels such as Netflix and Hulu.

Opps… Houston, we have a problem.

Unfortunately, many people still experience problems when attempting this procedure when outside of the US. If this is the case, here are a few tips.

 

Problem: I followed the procedure, and my Roku links to my account, but I do not see US channels like Netflix or Hulu!

Reply: It appears the linking failed. Make sure you are with a DNS service that also includes the set-up stage – not all do! This process was tested with Overplay’s SmartDNS although there are other services out there as well. Try un-linking your Roku box with your account, closing your account and starting again from scratch, including a full Factory Reset of your Roku box.

 

Problem: I can link my Roku Box, but when I try to add US channels, I get the error message I am not in the right country or region.

Reply: See solution above.

 

Problem: I have paired everything and I have Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, but no other US channels… what is going wrong?

Reply: If you cancelled all links or your Roku account, and you still tried to access one of the “advertised” services in My Channels on the Roku box, it will oddly enough install Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, and they will (for the most part) function correctly, although with a few bugs. This however is not a correct pairing and you will not have access to other channels or updates for these services. See above for the best solution.

 

Problem: It is not working and I am panicking and/or getting rather cross.

Reply: Relax. Roku may change firmware from time to time, and it is possible the set-up configuration with your DNS provider will need to be updated. Contact your DNS provider and ask them to look into the issue. Do this quickly though, as if there are serious problems and the Roku box can no longer be configured outside the US, you will want to know in enough time to warrant a refund from where you bought it! However, at this point in time at least, there is no suggestion this will be a problem.

 

Problem: After disconnecting power and Ethernet from the Roku device, no channels are accessible after power-up.

Reply: There seems to be an issue with the Roku box (at least when outside the US) that if a properly set up box is powered down, then up again with the Ethernet cable connected after power-up, it may adjust the time significantly and neither may there be any channels accessible nor possibly an Internet connection. The solution to this is to ignore the indication that “Wired (Ethernet)” is still being displayed under settings and select Wired (Ethernet) again as the preferred connection. Alternatively, if you need to unplug the Roku box for any reason, make sure the Ethernet cable is connected before reconnecting the Power cable.

 

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Overplay Smart DNS

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. MarkH

    I just wanted to say many thanks for the tutorial and your other inputs on other forums.

    I received a Roku box this week and wanted to get it up and running for UK Catchup services now that I am living in Europe.

    Got it all setup and found very few channels, despite having Overplay SmartDNS, the key was to delete the account, fire up my UK VPN, then recreate the account with a UK address, not my address in Europe – factory reset the box and then link the device – worked like a dream after a previous couple of hours of heartache.

    After a couple of days of using it, I am very impressed.

    Thanks again

    • Hi MarkH, glad you got it working, and thanks for the kind comments. Can I ask, was this a US or UK bought Roku box?

      • MarkH

        Hi Jo

        It was a Roku 2400EU LT box purchased from Amazon UK with UK plug socket

  2. Srini

    Alert !
    Another know issue for not getting US content is in step # 3 while creating Roku account. If you are entering a Paypal account it has to have a US billing address.
    Make sure your DNS setting on the router is working by checking the following:
    If using a Mac:
    Open terminal and type the following:
    nslookup owner.roku.com

    You should see some of the following in the output:

    Server: 208.122.23.23
    Address: 208.122.23.23#53

    Name: owner.roku.com
    Address: 204.12.200.105
    Name: owner.roku.com
    Address: 67.216.222.105
    Name: owner.roku.com
    Address: 173.208.170.105
    Name: owner.roku.com
    Address: 184.154.113.233

  3. RPRM

    Hello,
    Thank you for this guide. I am trying to set up my roku 3 with a Cisco EA4500 router outside USA using a trial UNODNS service. After following the instructions I am still not able to access services like netflix. I keep getting that Netflix is not available in my country and region. Here are my questions:
    1) In the router settings – which internet connection type do I apply the DNS settings? I have the option of DHCP ; Static IP; PPTP ; PPPoE ; L2TP and Bridge Mode.
    2) Do I leave the default router IP address unchanged and just alter the static DNS 1 / 2 AND/OR 3 fields?

    I notice when I perform the Roku test everything seems fine – the DNS serials given are registered but I notice my router IP address registers the current country I am in and am not sure if this is the reason why Roku is ‘recognising’ I am outside the US and hence the reason for not being able to access Netflix.

    Thanks in advance for your guidance.

    Regards,
    RPRM

    • Hi RPRM, you just need to add the DNS settings in your router where your normal Internet connection is. This will either be set blank, or to auto (so switch it to manual) and add the new DNS addresses. You don’t need to change any other setting.
      After it is done, test this by going to a webpage (clear the cache first) and try Netflix there. If it works (and you don’t have the DNS addresses also in your computer), then you have correctly set it up on your router.

      Very important question, where do you see the Netflix error messages on your Roku box? When you try to play a TV show or film? When Netflix starts up? Or is Netflix not even on the box and this error occurs when you try to add the channel on your computer’s Roku account?

      If you don’t even see American channels on your Roku Box (Netflix, Hulu etc), then you may have to completely create a new Roku account. (See the guide above)

      The other problem could be that your DNS service does not work with a US Roku box. As a last resort, try OverPlay which does work with the Roku Box and Netflix, and if it doesn’t, they offer a full refund within 48 hours. But don’t forget the mentioned step of creating a whole new Roku account if all else fails – And follow the steps on this guide exactly, as the order is important.

      • RPRM

        Hello Jo,
        Thank you for your response.The error comes up on Netflix start up but I have since subscribed to Overplay to replicate the steps outlined in the instructions and this has solved the problem. Your instructions are clear….thanks for that. The Roku box works now.

        My obstacle now, is the message “DHCP not authorized. Content blocked” that appears on the TV (purple scree) when streaming. I suspect it’s the model of my HD TV or more importantly, I suspect, it’s an old model HD ready Samsung TV. Need to trouble shoot to eliminate the possibilities.

        I am not a tech person, so do I just add OverPlay’s DNS IPs at the Cisco router Basic Setup page > Network Setup > Router Address > DNS 2 and DNS 3 fields? or is it in the DHCP Server setting fields > Static DNS 1 and Static DNS 2 fields?

        Thanks for the help in advance.

        Kind Regards,
        RPRM

        • Hi RPRM, glad you have got to the next step. So, just to be clear, do you have your OverPlay’s DNS IP addresses already set up in your router? I am guessing so, as this would be required to set up the Roku in the first place. Without really knowing your router, I think your basic settings are correct: Basic Setup page > Network Setup > Router Address > DNS 1 and DNS 2, but it normally is 1 and 2, not DNS 2 and 3.

          Anyway, you should leave DHCP set to auto. This setting is to allow all devices in your home network get an internal IP address from your router. It has nothing to do with Smart DNS and if it is set to manual, you will have to manually add IP addresses and subnet masks to every device in your home (not for the faint hearted).

          Can I ask you…? Does Netflix actually work, or is there still a problem?
          Secondly, where do you see the “DHCP not authorized. Content blocked” error message. It sounds like you have set DHCP to manual on your router. If so, see above and set back to auto.

          Don’t hesitate to ask more questions! We’ll get all this working for you :)

  4. SRoy

    MarkH in his comment mentions “fire up my UK VPN” as one of his steps: that is not there in the main article. is that required? thanks

    • Hi SRoy, a VPN was not required at the time of publication, and I don’t believe it will be necessary now. MarkH was referring to a Roku box being used for UK services rather than US, in which case that is a great tip for that use. The most important thing in the US Roku box is step 3, and the timing of creating the US Roku account. When people have issues, it is usually resolved by creating a new account as described in this guide. Hope this helps. If things go wrong SRoy, it usually isn’t something that can’t be fixed by trying again from step 1. Let us know how you got on!

  5. alex

    h,just about to set up Roku (when it arrives from amazon) account and see I have to put a phone number, as I am in Australia how do I input a viable number.
    thanks
    Alex

    • Hi Alex, do you have a friend in the US whose number you use? Roku will never call this number.

  6. alex

    no I don’t know anyone over there, any other suggestions I don’t want to use a number that may get someone in trouble.
    thanks
    Alex

  7. If you want to use Roku box outside US then get a VPN.

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