As the novel coronavirus continues to disrupt physical sporting pursuits, many of us are increasingly turning to the internet for a sports fix. Whether it’s live European football matches and local games, or American basketball tournaments, finding the sport you love online has never been easier thanks to the spate of worldwide streaming services and platforms.

Unfortunately, the advent of geo-blocking restrictions means these online sports streams are not immediately open to everyone everywhere. But there are a few ways around the rules if you have the right tool for the job.

Here, we go over what you need to stream sports online from the comfort of your own home. But first up, what is geo-blocking?

Geo-blocking restricts users by region

Say, for example, you sit down with your device ready to watch the very latest sports documentary on BBC iPlayer, but you receive the dreaded error message telling you the show only plays if you’re in the United Kingdom.

How exactly does the platform know you’re not in the UK?

Because of your IP address. Every computer connected to the net features a unique identifier, otherwise known as an internet protocol (IP) address. When a device requests a connection to a server for content, the device’s IP address is sent alongside the request. This is geo-blocking, a system used to limit net access based on a user’s geographic location.

Skirting geo-blocking with a VPN

The best way to avoid geo-blocking is to mask your device’s true IP address. And the easiest way to do this is with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). As the name suggests, VPNs generate a personal private network, and in the process, hide your real IP.

That’s because you connect a VPN app to various servers

around the world, based on where you’d like your digital location to be. The benefits of this are obvious when it comes to streaming sports or other content.

Let’s suppose you’re overseas but you’d like to watch sports on Airtel Nigeria’s new on-demand platform, Airtel TV. To get started, connect your VPN app to a Nigerian server, then stream from anywhere in the world.

And if it’s foreign sports you’re after, just connect your app to a server in the country the live sport is played in. For example, if you’re a die-hard rugby fan and you don’t want to miss Australia’s Wallabies being trounced by the New Zealand All Blacks, try connecting to either an Australian or New Zealand server.

Just note that to gain access to local streaming platforms you may need to create an account (or borrow a friend’s account credentials).

Choosing a VPN for sports streaming

The trick is to choose a VPN app that boasts numerous worldwide servers, including Nigeria, of course, especially if you’re a frequent traveller who misses local sports. High-quality VPNs are the way forward here. Some offer up thousands of servers in diverse countries, including nations where running a server is tricky, such as Russia.

Follow the tips and tricks above for streaming with a VPN and you’ve got your front-row ticket to the world’s best and most exclusive sporting matches, no matter where you are currently.