How to unblock Sky+ HD box Catch Up/On Demand outside the UK

Like many expats in Europe, I still have a Sky+ HD box with a Sky UK subscription through InSat, this gets me access to live TV from home through a satellite (yes, I have a TV license).

However, as the Catch Up content is On Demand via the internet on the Sky+ HD box, downloads failed because of my IP address.  Previously I used a VPN router, but this would quite often fail itself, be slow and just generally annoy me, most of the time when I wanted to use On Demand on the Sky+ box it would show ‘Connection to On Demand FAIL’.

Enter StreamVia and their SmartStream service, SmartStream is a DNS based service which means I can configure it directly on my Sky+ HD box without the need for a VPN router.  Happy days!  So, rather than seeing ‘Connection to On Demand FAIL’, I now see ‘Connection to On Demand OK’ and can successfully download any/all the Sky+ On Demand content, from the various channels and Sky Cinema as well whilst I’m abroad.  So now I can have the best of both worlds – sunshine and full access to UK Sky TV.  The download speed is generally as fast as my Sky+ box in the UK, I’m pretty sure Sky themselves limit download speeds as I have 200Mbit in the UK but rarely see over 20Mbit.

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Configuration is pretty straight forward, you basically edit the Network settings on the Sky box, even my father who lives abroad managed to sign up with StreamVia and configure SmartStream on his Sky+ box – without needing to phone me for tech support.  We both found the instructions on the StreamVia Help pages easy to follow and were up and running in about 15 minutes.  I think the price is pretty reasonable as well, for £4.99 a month I get access to UK, USA and Canadian VPNs and their SmartStream service which I can use on my Sky+ HD box, NowTV box (although this requires some router changes), Samsung SmartTV and my various computers, iPads/iPhones, etc.

About 2 months into my subscription with StreamVia, my broadband IP address changed as a result of a power cut – return of the dreaded ‘Connection to On Demand FAIL’ – so I had to sign in again to SmartStream to update my IP address in their systems.  Once done, everything was back exactly as it was showing ‘Connection to On Demand OK’.

I can’t rate the guys at StreamVia highly enough, they’re sharp, courteous and quick to reply.  I signed up about 6 months ago and have zero complaints and still zero tech support calls from my father.  I’ve attached a link to their SmartStream Sky+ HD box setup guide below, if you have any questions feel free to reach out in the comments below.

Sky+ HD SmartStream Setup Guide

StreamVia

Sideload OpenVPN/Apps on to Amazon Fire TV, Fire Stick or Fire Tablet

There seems to be a lot of confusion with regards to sideloading Apps onto the Fire TV, Fire Stick, Fire tablet, etc.  For me, the easiest way is using ADB (Android Debug) Tools.

In this demonstration we’re going to sideload, or install, the Android OpenVPN Connect app onto the Fire TV, Fire Stick, Fire Tablet, etc.  I travel frequently and when I do I like to take my Amazon Fire Stick with me however many hotels block various streaming services, this way I can easily get around any blocks without the need for a VPN router.

  1. To start with, enable ADB debugging and Apps from Unknown Sources on your Fire TV, Fire Stick, Fire Tablet, etc.  This can be done by going Settings → Device → Developer Options, shown in the below screenshot.

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  1. Next, make a note of the Fire TV IP address, you will need this to push the Apps to the device.  You can find this out by navigating to Settings → Device → About → Network

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  1. Download the Android Developer tools for your operating system, link below, we’re using Windows 10 here.

https://developer.android.com/studio/releases/platform-tools.html

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  1. Locate the downloaded Zip file, usually in your Downloads folder, and then extract the zip file so you are left with a ‘platform-tools‘ folder.  To keep things simple, we’re going to move this to our C:\ directory.

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  1. Drag and Drop the ‘platform-tools‘ folder, from your Downloads directory, to your C:\ directory.  You’ll then end up with something like the below.

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  1. In the search or run box, usually at the bottom of your screen on Windows 10, search for ‘cmd‘ and start the ‘Command Prompt‘ app/programme that search finds

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  1. A window similar to the below will pop up, now change directory to your C:\ by typing:
    cd C:\

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  1. From the C:\ directory, we can now enter the ‘platform-tools’ folder that we placed there earlier by typing:
    cd platform-tools

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  1. Now, all we need are 4 commands to reset/start/connect ADB, then push the Android APK file/app you want to side load.  You will need substitute your Fire TV IP address (that you made a note of in Step 2) in the ‘adb connect’ command.

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adb kill-server

adb start-server

adb connect fire-tv-ip-address-from-step-2

adb install location-of-the-apk-you-want-install.apk

In the above example I already have my Android APK file, i.e the App, in the C:\platform-tools directory, this makes things easy, I suggest you move any APK files you want to push/install to the platform-tools directory.  Change the ‘adb install’ command as necessary to point to the APK file/location you’re using.

If you need to download the Android APK app file, there are a few options, the easiest is to Google for ‘APK Downloader‘, however doing so may have security implications.  For this demonstration I used APKPure.com.