How to Watch Friends Online with a VPN

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The last episode of Friends originally aired 16 years ago but the comedy series is still one of the highest-grossing TV shows in the world. Through repeats, the show now grosses about $1 billion per year, with each of the six central cast members earning $20 million each per year through residual payments. So, thanks to their roles in Friends, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer are financially secure for the rest of their lives.

The format of Friends was very straightforward. It followed the lives of six young friends living in New York: Ross, Chandler, Joey, Monica, Rachael, and Phoebe. The deft skills of its writing team kept the straightforward plots bubbling with absurd situations and catchy humor. The dialog in Friends was the key to its success.

The series was a property of NBC. At the height of its success, the cast members’ demands for more wages meant that NBC didn’t make any money off showing the highly-rated show. The cost of each episode was higher than the advertising revenue that the station could generate from it. However, NBC executives calculated that they would recoup their losses through merchandising and syndication and this proved to be the case.

The 10 seasons of Friends included 236 episodes. They originally aired from September 1994 thru May 2004.

Watch Friends online

NBC doesn’t show Friends any more and there are no seasons of Friends on the NBC website. The parent company of NBC, Warner Media, has big plans for a new online video streaming service and they have thrown the online availability of Friends seasons online into disarray.

The new Warner Media site will be called HBO Max and will launch in May 2020. It is intended to be a rival to Netflix, which had the streaming rights to Friends since the beginning of 2015. Warner Media pulled that deal, ending the inclusion of Friends episodes on Netflix at the end of 2019. So, from January up to May 2020, there is no online streaming service in the USA carrying any seasons of Friends.

The series is shown on TV, with Nick at Night, TBS, and Comedy Central filling their schedule with episode after episode. However, of these three cable TV channels, only one, TBS, makes episodes of Friends available for streaming online. This service does not enclose any full seasons of Friends, but a few selected episodes.

Satellite TV operator also has the right to show Friends and it makes the show available for streaming on its website. However, the DIRECTV online service doesn’t have any entire seasons of Friends.

With both TBS and DIRECTV, viewers need to already subscribe to the channel on a home TV package. Before allowing the shows to run in an online video viewer, the web servers of these stations demand that viewers enter details of their home TV package. In both cases, the videos will only stream to browsers located within the USA.

Where else to watch Friends online

There are a number of illegal video streaming services on the web that have all of the episodes of Friends available. However, beware. These services source illegal copies of the videos through torrents.

In the USA, torrenting is a criminal offense under the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act. As each person in a swarm holds a piece of the illegal video copy and distributes it to other torrenters automatically, video viewers, temporarily storing and forwarding segments of video can get you a charge of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.

If you want to go down the route of watching illegal content, you need to protect your identity so that you can’t bed traced. A system called a VPN can do this for you.

The VPN service channels all of the traffic in and out of your device through its big server. So, anyone tracing traffic back from a video source will end up at the VPN service and not at your computer. VPNs wipe all of their connection records as soon as client session ends, so even if that company is forced to hand all of its records over to a prosecutor, there is no trace of your inclusion in the torrent stream.

Friends hasn’t been removed from Netflix entirely. It is still available on Netflix UK and Netflix Canada. Netflix has the same web address all over the world – Netflix.com.

Subscribers to Netflix can watch the service wherever they are in the world, not only in the country they subscribed in. So, if you have a subscription to Netflix in the USA, you can watch the service when you travel to the UK or Canada. The video library of Netflix is different in each country and you get the library for the country that you are in not the country you subscribed in.

If you are a US subscriber of Netflix, you would probably balk at the suggestion that you have to fly to Canada to watch Friends. However, this is an issue where a VPN can help you. That service replaces your IP address with its own as your requests to the Netflix system pass through the VPN network.

Netflix controls what videos are available in each country by checking the IP address that each request comes from. IP addresses can be referenced to an actual physical location. If you choose a VPN server in Canada, Netflix will give you the video library for Canada. So, you save yourself the airfare.

How to stream Friends on Netflix with a VPN

Use a VPN to access the Canadian version of Netflix and watch all seasons of Friends.

  • Subscribe to a VPN provider with US servers (for example, ExpressVPN)
  • Download and install the VPN client onto your devices
  • Open the VPN client, select a server location in Canada and turn the VPN on
  • Get to Netflix either through a browser or the Netflix app
  • Click in the spyglass icon on the top menu of the Netflix home screen and search for Friends
  • Select a season and click on an episode. Watch the video

Not all VPNs can get into Netflix. You also need to be sure that the VPN won’t slow down your connection and offers complete anonymity through connection log destruction. Very few VPNs have all of these features. We have saved you the time of searching for a good service by putting together a list of the best VPNs for Friends.

Our recommended VPNs for Friends

1. ExpressVPN

  • More than 3000 servers in 94 countries
  • Gets into HBO Go, Sky Go, Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video 
  • No data limits
  • Gets past VPN detection systems
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • An allowance of three simultaneous connections
  • Good speeds for video streaming
  • $8.32 a month with the one-year subscription plan

2. Surfshark

  • More than 1040 located in 61 countries
  • Gets past regional restrictions on streaming services
  • No data caps
  • Ad and malware blockers for included for free
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • No limit to simultaneous connections
  • Fast speeds
  • Only $1.77 per month plus 3 extra months free on the two-year plan.

3. NordVPN

  • More than 5600 servers in 58 countries 
  • Six simultaneous connections per account
  • Unblocks Netflix, Hulu, Sky Go, HBO Go, ITV, and ABC
  • No bandwidth or download restrictions
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 customer support
  • SmartPlay feature improves video transfer speed
  • Only $2.99 a month with the purchase of a 3-year plan

4. Cyberghost

  • More than 5600 servers in 90 countries
  • An allowance of seven simultaneous connections
  • No data throughput limit
  • Dodges detection at HBO Now, Hulu, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+ 
  • Evades national internet censorship
  • 45-day money-back guarantee on annual plans
  • Good speeds for streaming
  • $2.75 per month with the 3-year subscription plan

5. IPVanish

  • More than 1300 servers located in 53 countries
  • Allowance of 10 simultaneous connections
  • Strong security measures
  • No data throughput limits
  • Evades detection at all major streaming services
  • 7-day money-back guarantee
  • Very fast speeds
  • Priced at $6.49 per month on the one-year plan.
Alex Grant
 

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