Today’s world of expensive cable subscriptions means more and more people are looking to save money where they can. Online streaming services which only cost a few dollars a month are great ways to “cut the cord” and enjoy TV from anywhere.
The most popular of these streaming services is Netflix. With over 93 million subscribers and the ability to shed nearly 160 hours of TV commercials annually, it’s easy to see why people love to watch Netflix. The streaming giant has also heavily invested in original content, introducing award-winning shows like Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, and Narcos.
Netflix also went launched globally in 2016, which roughly coincides with the huge jump in popularity and subscriber amounts. However, certain shows and movies that are available on the US version of Netflix aren’t available everywhere. Due to copyright restrictions and licensing deals, the Netflix catalog in certain regions is vastly different than what is available in the US or even Canada.
So, what kind of content isn’t available everywhere? A great example of a TV show is The Office (US version) not being available in any countries outside of the US and Canada. This example, however, is just one of many! Further research shows residents of Spain only get 23% of the full Netflix catalog while Hong Kong only sees about 9% (!) of total Netflix content.
What does this mean?
Simply put, if you are a US resident traveling overseas or living in a foreign country, you won’t have access to the same shows and movies you can access back home. Additionally, subscribers outside of the US are given much less “bang for the buck” in terms of content (especially those folks in Hong Kong!)
Do you fall into any of these categories? Are you being cheated out of watching your favorite TV shows or movies? Is there any way to get around these geo-restrictions and access the full Netflix catalog?
Luckily, there is a great way to unblock US Netflix and the full catalog from anywhere in the world. A virtual private network (VPN for short) allows you to change your device location to unblock content and services that may not be available in your area.
A VPN creates a secure “tunnel” between your device and the internet, effectively hiding all data and making it appear that you are in a location that you select when enabling the VPN on your device. Additional benefits of a VPN are the secure encryption of your data and the ability to evade censorship when using the internet.
In short, using a Netflix VPN allows you to access the entire Netflix catalog from anywhere in the world!
How to watch Netflix using a VPN
Unblocking Netflix with a VPN is a relatively quick process that shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes from start to finish. You will need an internet-connected device (compatible with Netflix), a Netflix VPN service, and of course, a Netflix subscription (the region doesn’t matter).
- Make sure you are logged out of Netflix before getting started!
- Choose a Netflix VPN provider that matches your budget and needs.
- Sign up and pay for the VPN service you selected.
- Download and install the VPN software on your device you use to watch Netflix.
- Connect to a US VPN server using the VPN software you installed.
- Open Netflix, log in, and start streaming content without any restrictions!
Due to Netflix’s policy against using a proxy or VPN (I’ll touch on this further down), there is an ongoing game of cat and mouse going on between VPN services and Netflix. If a certain VPN service doesn’t work (aka Netflix knows that you are connected to a VPN and blocks you), connecting to a different US VPN server usually solves this issue.
Is unblocking US Netflix legal?
Using a VPN to access the US version (or any other region) of Netflix is a bit of a gray area that isn’t explicitly illegal. That being said, Netflix recently added a new clause to the official Terms of Service which strictly prohibits the use of VPNs and threatens to terminate subscriptions which do so.
While this might sound threatening, the reality is that Netflix hasn’t really followed through with this policy, instead preferring the difficult tactic of reactively blocking VPN servers that are used to access Netflix.
This reactive blocking also means that VPN providers have to adapt to servers getting blocked, which is why the best Netflix VPN services are constantly updating and introducing new servers and technology.
Nonetheless, licensing deals and copyrights exist for a reason, so unblocking geo-restricted content still comes with a (very small) chance of being caught. Much like P2P downloads (or torrents), rights holders can choose to take action against you. Proceed at your own risk!
Watching Netflix and other online streaming services are just one of the many great benefits of the internet and globalization. As the popularity of online streaming continues to surge upwards, hopping on the Netflix bandwagon is an awesome way to save money and still enjoy great content.
The geo-restrictions of Netflix are disappointing for those outside of the US, but aren’t conclusive and can be easily bypassed by using a VPN as described above. Use a Netflix VPN service and enjoy all the content you want, from anywhere in the world!