Media Hint requires account now, launches premium accounts

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Location-based content restrictions are fairly common on the Internet . It is most often used for streaming services that provide you with access to video or audio contents.

Popular services that use these types of restrictions are Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, and more or less every TV network in the United States.

There are two solutions available to overcome this. The first uses browser extensions like Media Hint, the second virtual private networks (VPNs).

We have reviewed Media Hint before here on Ghacks and liked that it offered an install and go kind of experience. All you had to do was install the browser extension to use it.

If you load the Media Hint website right now you will notice that things have changed quite a bit. You get a login prompt on the site, and the try it now buttons on the frontpage seem to suggest that things have changed quite a bit.

As of today, all users of Media Hint are required to sign in to an account to use the service. According to the company, this is to provide a personalized service, support and make available paid plans.

Update: Shortly after we have published the review the company made another important change. It removed free accounts completely leaving users with a 7 days trial before requiring them to sign up for a monthly or yearly plan to continue using the service. A free alternative is Hola Unblocker. Check out this guide to prevent the application from injecting ads into websites you visit.

Update 2: The company seems to have removed the account sign in for users who downloaded and installed the browser extensions directly, at least for now.

There is no mentioning of paid plans on the homagepage though, but once you have signed in, you see them listed on the account page.

media hint accounts

Two account types are listed here, a free account and a premium account that you can pay for monthly or annually.

The free account gives you access to location restricted contents and use Chrome or Firefox to do so. The premium account on top of that offers unlimited daily use, premium support and soon to come support for other apps, browsers and devices.

A premium account starts at $3.95 per month. The unlimited daily use feature of the premium account seems to suggest that free accounts are limited in terms of daily use.

The website does not offer information about that, but if you head over to Twitter, you will notice a statement by the site operators that free accounts are not limited in daily use either. It unclear why unlimited daily use is listed as a premium feature then.

The main change for free users is that you need an account now to use Media Hint. According to the company, you only need to sign in once a month if you do not delete cookies before.

Some users of the service may find this inconvenient, but considering that nothing else changes, it is likely something that the majority can live with.

Are you using Media Hint? If so, what is your take on this?

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Responses to Media Hint requires account now, launches premium accounts

  1. Boots April 3, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    The MediaHint Chrome extension just asked me for new permissions, noting that it can now "Access your data on all websites" and "communicate with cooperating websites"

    Not sure how I feel about this.

  2. Buu April 3, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    How about the alternatives to Media Hint? There is Hola (ad-supported until paying for Premium), which is available not only as a desktop client and Chrome and Firefox extension, but also on the Google Play Store. You can also use a VPN too.

    • chris April 4, 2014 at 4:12 am #

      zenmate, less buggy than Hola and works faster.

  3. Paul April 3, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    They've now gotten rid of the free account. All I see is Trial that lasts 7 days, after that you have to buy monthly or yearly...
    Screw you Mediahint, I'm going elsewhere.

    • Martin Brinkmann April 3, 2014 at 11:34 am #

      Now that is bad. Wonder how many users will sign up for a paid account.

      • Roman April 4, 2014 at 5:51 am #

        Is $4 bucks a month really that horrible tho?

      • Martin Brinkmann April 4, 2014 at 8:49 am #

        It is up to you. I think they could have handled the switch better though.

        I strongly believe that you should pay for a service that you use regularly if that service provides you with an option to do so. The reason is simple: Most services need to generate revenue somehow to cover costs, and if everything is free, they will eventually cease to exist or throw advertisement at you.

        Yes, some companies such as Google use their wealth to push free services, but they are not doing this selflessly.

    • Mark B April 4, 2014 at 7:35 am #

      'Screw you''?

      Because they are daring to want to try to monetize their skills and services after providing it for free and lots of us enjoyed it, your response is 'screw you'? Surely, 'so long and thanks for all the fish' or whatever would be ore appropriate, no need to tell them to screw themselves.

      • derp April 5, 2014 at 9:25 am #

        Yeah fuck this company, i'm sure free alternatives will pop out to replace this failure of a company

      • starlingnl April 8, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

        I'd be happy to pay for a reliable service, but Mediahint hasn't been working reliably at all for me lately, so I wouldn't trust it to keep working even if I did pay for it.

      • Kyle June 8, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

        I refuse to pay for a proxy not a true VPN. I cannot use certain websites with MediaHint because its not a private network. Amazon instant only works with a real VPN, not with MediaHint, so why pay for something that doesnt work properly, sam reason I only donate $1 a month to adblocker, because it doesnt stop all adds.

  4. steven April 3, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    What about existing users will they be prompt to login?
    I just downloaded it from: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/media-hint/?src=search and nothing what you described happend.

    • Martin Brinkmann April 3, 2014 at 11:50 am #

      Seems to work right now, not sure how this will work out in the future. Maybe they have removed the free account requirement again. I do not know but will monitor this closely.

  5. steven April 3, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    I wonder who owns the extension now? Tunlr for instance has disappeared shortly after they announced they gonna charge for access to Netflix... on the other hand the work those guys at MediaHint do takes resources and costs money and yet if you already pay for online streaming services you won't like it cos you'll have to now spend more do get the same. I don't know I'm confused.

  6. Tom April 3, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    If you use Chrome then ZenMate is an option https://zenmate.com/ (it's in beta for now and will change to a freemium version at some stage.)

  7. flux April 3, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    What exactly does "Access your data on all websites" mean? SSL is still secure? Passwords are not shared?

    • Martin Brinkmann April 3, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

      According to this page on Google https://support.google.com/chrome_webstore/answer/186213?hl=en

      This item can read every page that you visit -- your bank, your web email, your Facebook page, and so on. Often, this kind of item needs to see all pages so that it can perform a limited task such as looking for RSS feeds that you might want to subscribe to.

      Caution: Besides seeing all your pages, this item could use your credentials (cookies) to request or modify your data from websites.

      • flux April 3, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

        Thank you, Martin, for providing this information. I'm with Boots: I'm not sure how I feel about this. It is probably best to disable the extension whenever possible (as I have always done), or even go back to the old days of regional restrictions, unless you trust these guys with your virtual life... I assume this was the case prior to the "update", although we were not warned... and is also the case with Hola! (update: yes Hola! does indeed have similar permissions) ... I'm not really interested in identity theft nor giving someone access to PayPal accounts, etc. That's really too bad.

      • Martin Brinkmann April 3, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

        Well you can run a second Chrome version and use the extension there exclusively to separate accounts, or use different profiles in Firefox for the same effect.

  8. Darren April 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    No free option available - I've been using mediahint (and singing its praises) for about a year now.. Pretty bleak now that I am paying for Netflix (completely relying on functionality of Mediahint) - This was very out of the blue - They really could have thought of a more tactical, less-invasive way of sourcing funds. There should always be a free option, however basic.

    ... SOOOO who is up for scripting a new browser version of mediahint for opensource? PEOPLEOFTHEINTERNETUNITE!

  9. James April 3, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    Unfortunately I made a paypal donation equivalent to may years worth of subs. Live and learn I guess but pretty dishonest to ask for donations knowing they were going commercial in the near future.

    • anonym April 3, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

      yeah i feel ya bro... done the same...

    • Galone April 3, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

      you can dispute a payment up to 45 days for paypal. you might be able to get it back.

  10. Oxa April 3, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    "Popular services that use these types of restrictions are Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, and more or less every TV network in the United States."

    And BBC, ITV, and more or less every TV network in the UK; and CBC in Canada, and many other networks throughout the world.

    BTW, Hulu, Netflix, and Pandora aren't networks, they're streaming services. Big difference.

  11. Oxa April 3, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    This is all just part of the larger monetizing of the Internet. It's happening everywhere: newspapers, radio, secure email. Nothing new. Walk on by.

  12. anonym April 3, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

    After i learned of this i changed to avast secureline vpn. does the work of mediahint ten times over...
    then i deleted mediahint
    i would suggest you stop using mediahint as now it has become the means to spy on your web activities

  13. Sean April 3, 2014 at 6:40 pm #

    This is rather unfair!! Though, I understand from a business point of view. I used Private Tunnel before discovering Media Hint. Unlike the other service Private Tunnel is:
    >> Pay only for data you transfer
    >> No monthly fees
    >> Your available Data Transfer never expires
    >> Unlimited Connected Devices Per Account (Windows, IOS, Android,)

    500GB last me over 17 months with continuous use on multiple devices. I have gone back to it.

    I have found an alternative Proxmate plug-in/ add-on for unblocking Hulu and the others.

  14. Nya April 3, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    Dear MediaHint developers,
    I proudly ask you to go and fuck yourselves with your paid accounts. Maybe you'd also sell your asses to Zuckerberg, it's the nice trend in Internet.

  15. Pete April 3, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    Hole Unblocker works fine. I'm really disappointed with media hint.

  16. Simon April 3, 2014 at 10:48 pm #

    Not sure if april fools joke or not. If not, fuck you guys

  17. Tek April 4, 2014 at 3:16 am #

    Are you guys even serious? You are all so self entitled.

    Why do you think you deserve free services? Pay and get what you want and stop complaining.

    • Tina April 4, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

      While I find it fine to ask for a fee, I find what media hint is asking for too much. there are vpns that are cheaper a month which offer more than just unblocking content on video streaming sites like netflix. I personally have a vpn subscription on linkideo for a fee of $2,85 a month which is over $1 cheaper than media hint. i use it to access the netflix sites of the uk and usa for example and also to surf the net anonymously. so i get more from my vpn at a cheaper price than media hint is giving its customers. media hint only unblocks the usa site of netflix where i am from. then there is justfreevpn.com which offers a great free service with servers in the uk, usa and canada, which means i can get access to all netflix websites of those countries for nothing if i wanted to. a fee of a dollar a month or at most 2 would have been acceptable for an app that only unblocks content on video streaming sites. my vpn does more than that and is cheaper. not to mention the free alternatives many media hint users will start seeking out. media hint is a fine app that i enjoyed using to access netflix usa without having to sign in to my vpn, but too expensive for what it offers. I am by no means against fees, I mean i pay my isp every month, my vpn, buy my anti virus subscription for the year, I am by no means against fees for great services, but i DO know when it is too expensive for what it offers. And I also believe that media hint will get in trouble from the content owners on sites like hulu and netflix, because of the way it unlocks the content. especially since it will be a paid service now. the content owners might have let it slip when it was free, but i do believe something will happen once it starts charging fees.

  18. Dante April 4, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    For that kind of pricing, it'll be more effective to pay the same price for more flexible VPN services, like privateinternetaccess.com.

    • Tina April 4, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

      exactly. totally over priced for a service that keeps getting blocked by those sites. a vpn is more secure for us and reliable and in many cases cheaper =D

  19. Nicholas April 5, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    I wrote a post about using Proxmate as an alternative to Mediahint due to the ridiculous changes they made.

    Basically it functions in the same way without the recent bullshit. If you want more details you can read the post at the link below.

    http://www.pezant.ca/mediahints-unwelcome-update-and-an-alternative-extension-proxmate/

  20. Joe April 6, 2014 at 2:54 am #

    I want to thank MediaHint for introducing me to some of the basic benefits of vpn services. It was nice and easy when it was free, but now am ready to move on to a real vpn service company. Bye Bye

  21. Holly April 6, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    Deleted my Media Hint account. 3 days ago, I had the "free" account. Today, it's switched to "trial" with my only option to upgrade to monthly or yearly after 4 more trial days. I don't think so, developers. Buh bye.

  22. nwfrog April 9, 2014 at 2:56 am #

    What if The owners of HULU had bought mediahint...

    • Martin Brinkmann April 9, 2014 at 7:50 am #

      I do not think that they would consider it. There are so many alternatives out there that they would only disrupt the viewing from outside allowed areas for a short period of time.

  23. HowAboutNo April 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    With a bit of basic JavaScript knowledge and some idea of how Chrome extensions work you could, without any sweat, modify the extension (consisting of a single JavaScript file, a JSON manifest file and several images) to not redirect you to the Media Hint login page and instead skip that step and just do the job. Just remember to disable/enable the extension for the changes to take effect.

    • Pop April 10, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

      Probably not a good idea to say that here.

      People with that knowledge will already have figured that out and posting it in public will only have the effect that Media Hint will put more effort in to changing how the plugin works and then cut you off unless you pay. I mean the fix would be almost as easy as the one you are talking about.

  24. gkm April 13, 2014 at 2:14 am #

    Sorry to see the way they did it, a free version with adverts might have given people an option whilst raising revenue. Instead they sell it as never having adverts. Certainly would not pay a yearly sub as could not be to sure that it will still be about year on year. A service charging for what I assume is an illegal service (maybe I am wrong, please correct me). If it is illegal where does this leave people who are paying and thus facilitating it except out of money.

  25. marius April 17, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    For some reason it still works for me even tho I haven't paid anything.
    I mean Pandora works, Hulu works , everything seems to be in order. Tho I might have to mention that I did not install it from chrome app store. I've installed it like a long time ago I can't remember where from, but it wasn't on store at that time.
    I'm not gonna touch it and break it :))

    • Patrik April 17, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

      Thats because you are using an old version. This restriction is only for the newest version, however as far as I know Media Hint has always been auto updating, even before they moved to the chrome web store so it will most likely update for you soon if you don't disable autoupdating, not sure if that is possible on chrome thou but you could try using adblock or similar to block the update URL, at least on 0.1.12 thats https://mediahint.com/chromeupdates.xml

      I actually wrote a blogpost earlier today on how to keep using Media Hint for free and using an old version is one of the alternatives I wrote about. I also provided links to where you can find old versions today. If anyone is interested you can find it here http://popeen.com/?p=142

      • marius April 17, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

        So, it's actually up to date. I think that has something to do with the fact that is not installed from Chrome Web Store.
        http://imagizer.imageshack.us/a/img842/7546/rpuj.png here it is.
        I've checked the source-code from a version from the store and mine and it is the same.

        Also I've tried (on the web-store version app) the suggestion HowAboutNo's suggestion, few posts up. I have no Java script knowledge, but I do work in software dev. Anyway it was indeed trivial, modified 2 lines and works like a charm. If anyone needs the solution you can leave here a contact e-mail.

  26. Patrik April 17, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

    Hmm that's really weird, are you sure you don't have a trial account on Media Hint? If the source is the same there should be no difference other then the auto update between yours and and the one from the store. Any chance you could send me the crx for the one you got? would love to see if it works here too. 3bef0dee@opayq.com. (Its a temporary email so you spammers out there don't need to bother, it will be disabled in a couple of days)

    Actually you can do it in only one line too. The button will get a yellow background that looks like someone is pressing it but it will work. ;)

  27. marius April 17, 2014 at 11:23 pm #

    Trial expired at least one week ago.
    So , after looking at both versions with beyond compare, I've found 2 differences in source code (both in manifest file) :
    1. "key": which I've no idea what it is, but I guess it could be different for each copy of the extension
    2. "update_url": "https://mediahint.com/chromeupdates.xml", -my version
    "update_url": "https://clients2.google.com/service/update2/crx" -web store version

    I'll e-mail you.

  28. Patrik April 18, 2014 at 2:09 am #

    Thanks :)

    I tried installing your version and just as the one from the web store it kept asking me to sign in. So I had a look at the code and you are correct, there is no difference what so ever except for the ones you listed. This made me curious as to why it works for you and not for me so I started looking into the code a little deeper. And if I am not missing anything there is a bug in the way the extension checks if you are signed in, or rather don't check. It seems the only times it checks for this is when you install the extension and when you turn it on. So if you where to turn it off and then on again it would most likely stop working and ask you to sign in or upgrade to premium. Disabling it and then enabling it however don't seem to effect anything.

  29. marius April 18, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

    Yes , you are correct in everything you said. I don't know why it was working like that but it was a bust, now that I turned it off, can't turn it back on (without changing the source code ofc)

    Anyway I've been studying the extension some more, looks like the magic happens here https://mediahint.com/chrome.pac in this file (which contains all their proxies)
    So another way to do it would be to go into internet properties(in windows) and make your internet connection to point to this automatic configuration file, no need to have the extension. Just the file in your pc.
    Or to extract their proxies from the file and make your own .pac file. I don't see anything in their tos against using their proxies without paying, and it's there for the taking, not like someone is hacking in.

    I've actually got a few ideas on how to proceed ^^

  30. Jakob April 24, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    http://download.cnet.com/Media-Hint/3001-11745_4-75810464.html?hlndr=1

    Problem solved, for now at least.

  31. Bobby NIgel August 20, 2014 at 12:35 am #

    Thanks for the article Martin. I personally use the UnoTelly DNS option. It’s ideal for content streaming because unlike VPNs, there is no internet speed loss when using it.

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