Earlier this year, the Netflix CEO made the announcement that Netflix was now available in over 190 countries. Great news for those that travel and like to be able to have access to their favorite shows on the road, right? Well, the bad part is that the catalogs available in many of those countries is not nearly as extensive as the US version of Netflix so VPNs were still necessary to gain access to your US-based catalog.
Netflix Axing VPN Use
However, starting last month, it seems that Netflix has brought the ax down on VPN use all over (but not totally cutting off everyone). At first it was just reports coming in from Australia that users trying to access US catalogs with their VPNs were getting notices that it was not possible. Now, it seems that Netflix has moved to do it across their network.
Other online video services have been doing that for some time now already, so it was already very possible for services to isolate the server IP addresses that VPN services used. Netflix seemed perfectly content with letting users do that since it meant more customers. Imagine the anger by many if someone in a different country had paid for a year’s subscription and then VPNs were banned (even though people realized that Netflix could absolutely do that). Now that Netflix has catalogs across the globe, I imagine they must have felt like they would receive less blowback restricting access now (while also observing the licensing issues that they have to deal with).
However, VPNs are not just used for the purpose of accessing media content providers while abroad. They are used for security as well to prevent your computer from being accessed. Engadget has a good piece on this and says it is why Netflix will lose this battle. Either way, if you do have a VPN service and continue to want to take your favorite movies/shows with you on the go, make sure you check with your VPN as many of the popular VPNs that people used to access Netflix have already been working on changing some things to beat the Netflix block…for now.
I actually started this post last month when they began to block access to people using VPNs but I found that a new account I had recently setup was not blocked (even though other people were experiencing blocks when trying to access Netflix through a VPN). That ended yesterday with it now saying that they cannot allow access through a proxy or blocker. After reading online, it appears it has not hit across the globe and, as you can imagine, there are a lot of people that are not happy with it.
You will find that you can login and even select a movie or show. But when you go to play, you will receive this message:
Whoops, something went wrong…
You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again. For more help, visit netflix.com/proxy.
Of course, this also will mean that if you use a VPN for security when traveling domestically, you will also not be able to access Netflix. So, if browsing with a VPN is the only way you travel, you will find that you will no longer be able to access Netflix without first turning it off. Netflix says they hope to be able to have their catalog available worldwide but that is probably at least a couple of years off.
Just because you cannot access it through a VPN does not mean that you cannot use Netflix. Since they have rolled it out to many countries (China is one that still does not have it, though), you should be fine watching Netflix while abroad. But, be prepared for limited catalogs. Some things will be available that are not accessible from the US catalog while there may be a lot of things missing.
Do you still have access using a VPN to access Netflix?