It’s no secret that American Netflix is the king of all Netflix subscriptions. Offering a wider range of content and some of the world’s most popular programs, American subscribers get by far the best deal when it comes to their streaming choices.
However, what happens when you want to go abroad, or if you’re a resident in a different country who wants to access programs that aren’t available to you. Netflix’s controversial geo-blocking policy has started many conversations of the ethics of country-by-country subscriptions and has had many trying to find a way around the problem. Here’s how you can watch American Netflix no matter where you are.
Geo-blocking refers to the practice of certain websites being restricted due to the users geographical location. This is done by identifying the IP address of the device that is trying to access the website and blocking, or not blocking, accordingly. IP addresses are unique codes that are given to all internet routers to identify their location in the world—just like an actual address.
Once they have been identified, then website providers, or even governments, can block website access to certain groups—and subsequently certain regions or countries. The growing frequency of this practice has caused significant controversy between many internet users as it abuses the concept of freedom of information.
Why Does It Happen?
There are many reasons why geo-blocking can happen. On a broader scale, governments employ this tactic to blacklist websites with politically unsound or criminal content. In the case of Netflix, geo-blocking is partially a financial strategy and partially to do with the licensing agreements they have with providers in certain areas. Many American shows, from channels such as HBO and ABC, are only licensed to be shown in America, and therefore Netflix have to restrict them for users accessing their service from abroad.
Although this may be seen as reasonable due to it being outside of Netflix’s control, forcing people to sign up to new subscriptions, instead of offering free access, whenever they leave the US is for no other reason than to significantly increase their profit margins.
How Can You Fix it?
Although this doesn’t look like it’s a situation that is going to change anytime in the near future, there is a way around it! By using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you can bypass geo-blocking restrictions and access American Netflix no matter where you are. This is great news for all travelers and holidaymakers as it means you can stay caught up with your favorite TV shows every time you go away. All you have to do is sign up to a package from an American VPN provider and install the app, and you’ll be able to watch Netflix from anywhere as if you were still in your front room.
How Does a VPN work?
When you sign up to a VPN, what you are actually doing is connecting to a server that acts as a middleman between you and the internet. This initial connection mimics a private network before connecting you to the WiFi via the VPN server. By doing this, you adopt the IP address of the server you are using instead your own, which means you can access geo-blocked data as it seems as if your location is still in America. Not only does a VPN mean you can watch American Netflix anywhere, it also drastically improves your internet privacy as the initial connection encrypts your data and stops it being seen or accessed by malicious hackers and cybercriminals.
Choosing your VPN
Choosing a good VPN is essential when using this kind of service because a bad one could quite easily let you down when you’re abroad by leaving you still unable to access Netflix as if you’d never even chosen to use one in the first place. First of all, it’s important you choose a provider that offers American IP addresses. This may seem simple, but there are many different options out there and not all specify where the server will change your location to.
Although this doesn’t matter if you’re using a VPN for purely security reasons, it is massively important if you trying to get around geo-blocking. Next you have to consider your price plan. There are many free VPNs on the market, but a lot of these have unreliable connections and offer no customer service. This means that as soon as they go down, Netflix will be blocked again, and you won’t be able to speak to anyone about solving the problem, so paying for a package is definitely worthwhile.
Another way to access a VPN is through a plugin, such as Chrome’s Hola. This free extension exists within the browser itself and opens automatically when Chrome is accessed. Although this will bypass geo-blocking when the internet page is open, it won’t work if you’re using separate applications.
Although being unable to access Netflix abroad will always be extremely frustrating, using a VPN can make the problem nearly completely irrelevant. And with so many other significant benefits, there’s no reason not to download one. If you have any suggestions for the best VPNs out there or just want to share your experience, make sure you leave a comment below.