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How Does Netflix Use Geo-Blocks?

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Netflix is an awesome streaming platform, but it has one key problem – geo-blocks. Basically, some shows and movies are only available in specific countries. If you look them up in your region, they don’t show up.

Don’t take our word for it, though – click here to see for yourself. Use StreamCatcher (an online tool from ProPrivacy) to see where certain Netflix titles are available. For example, if you look up Die Hard, the tool will tell you the movie is only available in Germany and South Korea.

streamcatcher

Quite a bummer, right? Especially if you got a Netflix subscription just to watch a hit series or a few movies.

But what’s the alternative? Canceling your subscription, hoping you might get a refund, and looking for a different service?

No need to go that far. We’ll show you how to unblock any Netflix title you want. Also, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Netflix’s use of geo-blocks.

So How Does Netflix Geo-Block Its Content?

It’s pretty simple, really. Here’s a quick look at what happens:

  1. When you visit Netflix, your device sends connection requests to the site through your web browser. Those requests contain your IP address.
  2. When Netflix gets your requests, it first checks your IP address to see what your geo-location is. Yes, your IP reveals that kind of information (country, city, ZIP code, ISP, etc.).
  3. Based on your geo-data, Netflix uses automated scripts to redirect you to your country’s Netflix library.

And that’s about it. There’s probably more that happens in the background, but there’s no reason to focus on that right now. What we outlined is the reason you can’t see certain shows and movies on Netflix.

Why Does Netflix Use Geo-Blocks?

They have to do it to comply with the licensing agreements they signed. The site doesn’t own most of the content it broadcasts, so it has to license it from the copyright holders.

While Netflix would be happy to buy global rights for every TV show or movie, they can’t do that. Here’s why:

  • They can’t get global licensing because the copyright holder already sold the rights for certain countries to other streaming sites and TV networks.
  • They can’t get licensing rights for a specific country because they aren’t for sale.
  • Netflix’s data mining shows that people in one region won’t be interested in a show or movie they want to license. So the company won’t buy rights for that region. Licensed content is a tremendous expense for them, so they have to make sure they only make profitable investments.

Does Netflix Geo-Block Its Own Programming?

Netflix Originals are usually available worldwide since Netflix owns the copyright. There are only a few exceptions when Netflix has to geo-block them – like Lilyhammer or Orange Is the New Black.

The problem with those shows is that Netflix wasn’t available worldwide when they released. So the company sold the licensing rights to other distributors in countries where it wasn’t available. Now that Netflix is available there, it can’t stream its own shows since they don’t own the licensing. Instead, they have to wait for those rights to expire and try to buy them back.

That might not always happen, though, because:

  • The current site or TV network that owns the rights has priority to renew them.
  • The current site or TV network that owns the rights asks for absurdly high prices.
  • Netflix’s data mining says that there’s no longer enough interest for those shows in those regions. So buying back the rights wouldn’t be a smart investment.

How to Bypass Netflix’s Geo-Blocks

It’s really simple – just use a VPN. It’s an online tool that helps you unblock geo-restricted content by hiding your IP address. Here’s how it works:

  1. You use a VPN app to connect to a VPN server. NOTE: the server has to be in a country where the content you want to unblock is available (so the UK for UK-only titles).
  2. The two establish an encrypted connection.
  3. When you visit Netflix, the server acts as a middleman between it and your device. Basically, it intercepts your connection requests and forwards them to Netflix.
  4. Due to that, Netflix thinks your requests are coming from the VPN server. So it only sees the server’s IP address.

It might seem like a complicated process, but don’t worry – on your end, it’ll only take one or two seconds at most. You just pick the server, hit “connect,” and you’re good to go.

All that’s left is picking a good Netflix VPN – i.e. one whose IP doesn’t get detected. If that happens, you’ll see the Netflix proxy error instead of the show or movie you want to unblock.

To find such a VPN, click here. It’s an online tool from ProPrivacy that tells you where Netflix titles are available. Besides that, it also tells you which Netflix VPNs you should use. And those recommendations are based on ProPrivacy’s data – one of the biggest VPN review sites on the web that regularly tests the top VPNs to make sure they can unblock Netflix.

How to Improve VPN Speeds While Unblocking Netflix

VPNs can slow down your original speeds, which can be an issue. If the slowdown if too annoying, here’s what you can do:

  • Use lightweight protocols like WireGuard, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPSec instead of OpenVPN.
  • If OpenVPN is the only available protocol for your device, use it over UDP instead of TCP.
  • Use a nearby server. If the show or movie is available in the US, Canada, and the UK, and you’re from Germany, use a UK server.
  • Unblock Netflix over wired connections instead of WiFi. Weak signals can’t lower your speeds that way.

What’s Your Experience with Netflix and Geo-Blocks?

Did you ever have to deal with them? If you did, were you able to bypass them with a VPN, or did you use a different unblocking method?

Please tell us your story in the comments below.

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