While most Netflix users are probably fine accessing content the service makes available to the country they are living in, some at least have used various means to access content only made available to other countries.
The main reason for doing so is that Netflix content varies a lot from country to country, with content in the US being two, three or even four times larger than content in other countries Netflix is available in.
While Netflix ensures that most of its recent original shows are made available worldwide, the situation is rather grim when you look at what is made available besides that.
Thanks to decade-long practices of auctioning-off content to the highest bidder in countries around the world, most of Netflix's content is not available globally but only in regions Netflix managed to acquire the rights for.
That's why shows in one particular region of the world are not necessarily available in other regions.
For users, it is highly problematic especially when they start to compare what is being offered to them with Netflix's offerings in other countries.
But it is not only about users who want to access content available in other regions. If you live in the US and go abroad for business for instance, you won't be able to access the service you have paid for.
Proxy services, and the term is used loosely to include DNS and VPN services, were used in the past by paying customers to access Netflix content made available to other regions, or to watch shows in their original language.
With Netflix cracking down on proxy services, customers started to see "whoops something went wrong" more frequently or even permanently when using proxy services to access Netflix.
It is unclear what methods Netflix uses to detect the use of proxies but the most likely method is that the company uses blacklisting to block access to streaming content on its site if customers connect using one of the blacklisted IP addresses (which Netflix associates with proxy services).
Basically, what is happening is that Netflix checks the customer's IP address against the list of proxy IP addresses it has created, and if it is a match, will block access to streaming content completely, or, and that seems to be the case for some customers more recently, only stream content that is also available in the country the customer is residing in.
Blacklisting led to false positives, as some IP ranges were falsely identified as belonging to proxy services when they were not. Also, customers who are using VPN connections to improve the security of their Internet connection are blocked as well.
According to Netflix's CEO Reed Hastings, the company's crackdown on VPN users has not had any effect on Netflix's bottom line.
One has to wonder why Netflix went through all those troubles in blocking a small number of users, and the likely answer to that is that the company has been pressured by rights-holders to do so.
While Netflix has increased the output of original shows year over year, it is still not in a position to survive with these shows and movies alone which is why it has to make concessions to rights-holders.
Present and future
Many DNS and VPN services don't work anymore when it comes to accessing Netflix content.
While that is the case, the blocking is not perfect yet and it is unlikely that it ever will be if Netflix continues to use blacklisting exclusively for that.
Services like ViperDNS work fine at the time of writing and it is likely that we will be seeing the cat and mouse game between Netflix and proxy operators go on for some time.
Netflix customers who want to access content offered in other regions the company operates in will likely have to switch between different providers regularly to ensure continued access to that content as Netflix won't stop adding IP addresses to its blacklist.
Now You: are you affected by Netflix's blocking of proxy services?Advertisement
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.