Are you living in Costa Rica but miss your favorite shows or news broadcasts from the U.S.? Well, here is one possible solution and it doesn’t involve Amnet, Cabletica, or SKY TV. All you’ll need is an internet connection.
A little-known company called US TV Now provides a great service – US television for US expats, beamed right to your home.
If you are content simply watching on your computer, just head over to their web site and sign up for an account. The service costs about $20 per month, and in return you will be able to watch live broadcasts of ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, A&E, Animal Planet, CNN (the US version, not international!), Discovery Channel, FOX News, National Geographic, History, and a ton of other channels that you’d expect on a basic cable package if you were back in the US. For quite a bit more money, they offer an ‘HD’ plan of 200 channels + HBO and Showtime, but I have been quite content with their basic plan combined with my Netflix subscription.
So, you’re happy now because you can now get real, live US TV. But, if you’re like me, a small computer screen doesn’t cut it – I like my TV on a TV. So, on to the next step. Note that you’ll need your internet connection connected to a Wifi router for this to work.
Order a Roku player. Just get the cheap ‘LT’ model for $49 – due to the internet speeds in Costa Rica you won’t be able to stream in high definition 1080p so the other models have no advantage over the LT here. By the way, don’t worry about Roku’s “channel” lineup, which sucks – the important thing is we’re going to be connecting this little box to your US TV Now that we set up above (and later, we’re going to connect it to your Netflix account, and even show you how to get the US version of Netflix here in Costa Rica).
Once you have your Roku player in hand, connect it to your TV and follow the easy instructions for connecting the player to your Wifi network and activating it for the first time.
Once your Roku is up and running, select the ‘Channel Store’ from the main menu and find (it’s in there somewhere) the US TV NOW icon, select it, and choose ‘install channel.’ You should now have US TV NOW on your Roku home screen. Select it, put in your username and password for your US TV NOW account that you created earlier, and get ready to get live US cable TV here in Costa Rica!
If you have a Netflix account, you will also notice that Roku comes with the ability to play Netflix, but before you get started, why not follow our instructions for getting US Netflix first?
Head on over to http://unblock-us.com/ and set up an account. The service costs $4.99 per month and makes you ‘appear’ to be in the US so that Netflix doesn’t give you their boiled down Costa Rican version. This takes a bit of setting up, namely you need to change the DNS settings in your Wifi router, but they have step by step instructions on their site.
Once you have your router modified to us unblock-us.com, just pull up Netflix on your computer and you’ll receive the US version.
Now, back over to your Roku player. Select Netflix from the main menu and input your Netflix username and password, and you’ll be watching US Netflix alongside all of the major US cable channels on the big screen, right here in Costa Rica.
Now that you have everything you need for your viewing pleasure, you may be considering cutting the cord to Amnet or Cabletica – but perhaps you think you need them for your internet connection.
Wrong. DSL service is available from ICE in most areas of the country, and if it isn’t, you can also go completely wireless by getting a 3G ‘datacard’ from ICE that gives you a 2mb (good enough for the setup above under most circumstances) internet connection anywhere there is cellular service. The datacard can then be inserted in a 3G router (ask your local computer guy) to produce a Wifi signal that will power all of your internet and television-viewing needs.
Editors note: updated with a link to Roku store.