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Eye on Demand | April 19, 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. 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.
  3. 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

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