There is no doubt that Netflix is the leader when it comes to premium online streaming platforms. It revolutionized the world of online on-demand entertainment since it made its debut in the industry over a decade ago. Over the years, it has expanded its reach and it is currently available in pretty much every country in the world. However, the content that is offered is not the same in every location. This popular Video on Demand platform doesn’t provide the same list of options to all its subscribers. The content that you can access depends on your location. For instance, those in the United States can enjoy a wider selection than those in other countries.
This difference in content feels unfair considering that people around the world pay fairly the same amount of money for the service. The reason why some countries get more options than others or at least different ones, is that there are copyright restrictions associated to licensing agreements. When Netflix acquires content, it signs deals with the production companies and as part of these agreements, there are geographical restrictions that dictate where the content can be offered. Still, Netflix subscribers who want to enjoy a more varied selection of content, have opted for using VPN service to overcome the restrictions. With a VPN, you can access the Netflix library in the United States, even if you don’t live there. However, Netflix is working hard to prevent users from getting around the geo-blocks and here we’ll find out more about the current situation.
Why are Netflix’s catalogs different around the world?
Over the last few years, the budget for TV shows has increased dramatically and it is possible to see big Hollywood stars on the small screen. HBO is one of the networks who has created shows that have changed the way in which TV is perceived. Then, with the appearance of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, which create their own content, we have seen even more changes. Without the restrains of advertising and ratings, subscription services have opened the door to creativity and they have the budget to back up new and groundbreaking concepts, with big names associated to them. Top directors, producers, writers and actors are making the transition to the big screen.
Netflix produces original content and it has all the rights over it, which means that it can offer it to all its subscribers in every country where the service is available. However, Netflix also acquires content from major studios and independent companies and in these cases, Netflix has to sign agreements that allow it to offers this content on its platform. As part of these agreements, Netflix must comply with the requirements from copyright holders and in some cases, that means restricting the content to certain locations. Netflix would rather offer its entire catalog of movies and TV shows to all its subscribers, but it must follow the licensing agreements signed with other companies. This is why it has implemented geographical restrictions and it aims to prevent the use of VPNs, as these services can help people to circumvent the restrictions.
The main concern for production companies and copyright holders is to make money and one of the ways to increase their profit is to sign regional deals, instead of giving rights to one company and making their content available around the world. If the rights to the content have been sold to a another broadcaster in a specific location, Netflix won’t be allowed to show the content there. In order to get around the restrictions, many people relied on VPN services and proxies. These services can mask your IP address, making you appear as if you were in a different place. You can get an IP address from the United States and get access to the content that is available there. However, Netflix soon realized that this was the trick that people were using to bypass the blocks. Netflix was pressured by copyright holders and production companies to put an end to this.
The solution that Netflix chose, instead of targeting individual subscribers who were using a VPN (which wouldn’t make sense from a business perspective), was to ban VPN services. When Netflix launched its services across the world in 2016, it also announced that it would block VPN services. The move may indicate that before its platform was available around the world, Netflix was aware that many people were using the US version of Netflix, even if they didn’t live there. They were getting paid customers from other regions, which was great for them. But once the service was launched in other locations and copyright holders and production companies put more pressure on them, Netflix decided to take action by banning VPNs.
How does Netflix block VPNs
Netflix has implemented technology that allows it to detect the use of a VPN and this technology continues evolving. The powerful blocking solution that Netflix uses has proven to be effective to the point in which most proxies and VPN services don’t work to unblock the US version of Netflix anymore. However, there are still some VPNs that can help you to overcome the restrictions. You can get around the blocks with certain VPNs, but keep in mind that this goes against Netflix’s terms of service. That being said, there have not been cases in which Netflix has banned people for using a VPN.
In the end, Netflix just has to show that it is doing something to stop people from accessing the US catalog from abroad. It has implemented the geo-blocking technology to keep copyright holders and production companies happy. As such, it will continue blocking VPNs, but VPN services are catching up and as soon as Netflix blocks one of their IPs, they are ready to offer new ones to their customers. Even if a VPN server stops working due to the blocks, it is likely that the VPN service will find a way to overcome the ban by offering a new server that helps you to overcome the restrictions.