Blocking Netflix on a VPN Isn’t Good for Anyone – Especially Netflix
“People will always try to find ways to get the content they want regardless of technological barriers,” she said. “We understand that, which is why we try to deliver our content to members globally at the exact same time.”
But even if Netflix says it will ban VPN users, can it? “There are some hanging fruits that they can get,” says Karl Kathuria, CEO of Psiphon Inc, which operates proxy technologies for users in countries that censor the internet such as Iran and China. If a standard VPN has one or ten servers, then it can be easy for them to find out and block IP addresses.”
Netflix can also track whether individual users log in regularly from different locations, Kathuria says, which could indicate they’re using a VPN.
“But once you get past the standard VPN, the one that has limited infrastructure, after that, it will start to get a little more difficult,” he says. The question is whether it will be something they can enforce.
Nor is Netflix the first company to try to restrict access to its content. “In 2014, Hulu attempted to cut off the access of people living outside the US by blocking VPNs and proxies,” says Faraz Ali, Director of Digital Marketing at PureVPN. “But they didn’t work because many VPN providers found other ways to bypass restrictions. Everyone knows Hulu failed.”
Ali and other VPN providers were confident that they could have the solutions set up within a few weeks. “[If] “Netflix blocks our server IP addresses, we are able to easily replace our server IP addresses,” says Ali. And if they have a plan to block the entire network, we can replace it in a matter of days to get around the blockage.”
If providers are able to build workarounds, Netflix will have to devote a significant amount of energy (and money) to fighting users trying to keep using them. “It’s a bit of a cat-and-mouse game,” says Andrew Lee, digital rights activist and founder of the provider Private Internet Access. “The cat catches the mouse. The mouse, in order to get around this, creates 1,000,000 mice and becomes unidentified due to the huge number of mice.”
“Go to the sewers in New York and you’ll see that you can’t tell one mouse from another,” he adds. “They all seem the same. However, they are all different.”
Catch 22 is that international users Act They want Netflix, and they’re even willing to pay. “The irony is that we, and all the other proxy services, have built an international user base, and Netflix knowingly hasn’t aggressively prevented us from doing so,” says Robert Stone, partner at unlocker MediaHint.
“The backlash is already growing and users will realize very quickly that the service for which they pay €8 is nowhere as complete as the $8 service for the US service,” Stone adds. “Same price, poor catalog.”
This content can also be viewed on the site from which it originated.
International users want Netflix the way it was meant to be – a mix of original movies, Hollywood movies, and TV shows. The split service is not working. All things must be good – to be Netflix. “We have seen tremendous growth in VPN sales since right after the launch of Netflix across the world because people are realizing that a VPN means access to the entire Netflix library,” says Ali. “In my opinion, blocking VPN services may affect Netflix’s regional earnings because there is less content available.”
The thing is, a truly global service is what Netflix wants, too. Its subscription model ensures that its interests and those of its audience are aligned. The more Netflix can deliver what viewers want, the more Netflix subscribers will have.
But for now, even if we ideally think of the internet as borderless, the truth is that the content isn’t free to roam. Movies and TV shows are still held back by licensing restrictions tied to deals signed years ago, creating a fragmented global landscape serving studio and network distribution strategies.
“We think the only solution for them is to offer all their content everywhere,” says Ali. It’s what everyone might want, including Netflix. But for now at least, even Netflix can’t always get what it wants.