Not everyone realizes it, but Netflix has a different library of movies and TV shows for every country that it is active in. It’s not alone in this: Hulu and Amazon as well as some Kodi repos have the same restriction. What makes the world’s number one streaming service different is the dreaded Netflix VPN ban; this article is about how to beat it.
In theory, any geoblock like Netflix’s should be easy to circumvent by simply employing a virtual private network, a way to pretend your signal is coming from somewhere else than your actual location. Netflix, however, has put one of the most sophisticated VPN detection systems in place to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Before we get on to the why of the ban, let’s take a look at the why of having different versions of the service to begin with. We’ll then finish up by giving you a few VPNs that have somehow managed to stay one step ahead of Netflix and will allow you to access different countries’ Netflix — well, most of the time, anyway.
If all these whys and whats are too much information for you and you just want to know the best VPNs to beat the Netflix VPN ban, we recommend you skip ahead to our best VPN for Netflix article. If you’d like to go even faster, signing up for ExpressVPN is the golden ticket of accessing any Netflix from anywhere. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the finer points of copyright law.
Five VPNs That Beat the Netflix Ban in 2018
Netflix and Distributors
It’s copyright law that’s mainly responsible for creating almost 200 Netflixes. Though the service is producing more and more of its own content now, the majority of what it has on offer is still made and distributed by others. This means that these companies, in turn, get a say in what gets shown where.
This is often because Netflix isn’t the only party showing TV shows and movies. Many distributors have deals in place with networks in countries that give away exclusive viewing rights. Distributors can hardly sell the same rights twice, meaning that Netflix may be allowed to show Burn Notice in the U.S., say, it can’t show it in the Netherlands, where a local TV network holds those rights.
This system of licensing creates a weird patchwork of what’s available and what is not in different countries. U.S. subscribers have by far the largest library available to them, while some markets were well and truly sewn up before Netflix even came on the scene.
It’s these distributors who determine what gets shown where, Netflix itself has precious little say in the matter and has admitted it would rather just show everything everywhere; as you can imagine, there are more than a few companies who oppose this.
Netflix and VPNs
As a customer you barely notice any of this: you simply visit www.netflix.com and up pops the homepage you’ve grown to know and love. Behind the scenes, however, Netflix has redirected you to the site of the country you’re accessing it from.
Note that this has nothing to do with the country you created your account in, that only affects how much you pay each month (Asian subscribers generally pay a little less than American ones, while Europeans generally pay a buck or so more). The IP address you’re accessing the site from determines whether or not you’re watching, say, Scandal or not.
Someone with a bit of internet savvy will have figured out by this description that all you need to do is enable a VPN and off you go. A VPN will fake an IP address, placing you wherever you need to be to watch a particular film or not.
This is what a lot of people were doing until January 2016: all our best VPN providers would let you access Netflix without a hitch. What changed then was that the distributors Netflix had partnered with were starting to realize that they were losing money because people were using Netflix to watch shows.
Since losing money goes against the core principle of any business, Netfli id=x found itself under a considerable amount of pressure to prevent people from using a VPN, without just seeming to do so. In reply, the service set up what’s possibly the best VPN detection system outside of the People’s Republic of China to catch perpetrators.
The result was mass consternation as subscribers everywhere were hit with proxy errors left, right and center, making it impossible for them to keep watching a show unless a VPN was disengaged.
Of course, any time a large-scale solution is implemented there is going to be some collateral damage. In this case it made it so people that were using a VPN to protect their privacy were also unable to access Netflix, opening the company up to accusations that it was waging a war on privacy.
The main reason here at Cloudwards.net we advocate using a VPN is not to watch movies — that’s just a bonus. VPNs are the first line of defense against government surveillance as well as spying by governments’ corporate cronies. Not being able to use a VPN, even just while you’re binging away on a rainy Sunday afternoon, is a bad thing.
VPNs That Beat the Netflix Ban
Thankfully, several of the best ranked providers among our VPN reviews have managed to put together the needed security and avoidance systems to avoid being detected by Netflix. Cloudwards.net favorite ExpressVPN (read our ExpressVPN review) leads this particular pack, with NordVPN (NordVPN review) and VyprVPN (VyprVPN review) closing out the top three.
Any of these three will get you into Netflix U.S., at least, with NordVPN also allowing you access to Netflix France and ExpressVPN casting the widest net worldwide: there are very few countries where it can’t get you in. VyprVPN only allows access to U.S. and UK Netflix, but has so many servers in both that you’re guaranteed to get a server that works.
Which brings us to a last point: in this cat-and-mouse game between Netflix and VPNs there are no guarantees. One day a server will work perfectly, the next you’re out of luck and you get a Netflix proxy error. All that helps is switching servers and praying that your old one will be back up sooner rather than later.
Though it’s not an exact science by any means, using any of our favorite VPNs for Netflix should get you into most Netflixes most of the time. Through trial and error, as well as keeping a close eye on Cloudwards.net, you should be able to watch whatever you want without too much trouble. Once you’re in, so to speak, check out our Netflix hacks for an improved viewer experience.
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What are your experiences with the Netflix VPN ban? Do you have any thoughts on it? Please join the discussion in the comments below. As always, thank you for reading and good luck staying a step ahead of Netflix.