Netflix is working on employing measures to stop members from using proxies or ‘unblockers’ from accessing content from other countries. Consequently, this will stop users from using proxy servers, virtual private networks (VPN) or other content unblocking services, to access Netflix content not available in their country.
The company mentions that it is working on making progress in licensing content across the world, but “we have a ways to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere.” The company recently launched in 190 countries, including India.
‘Unblocking’ Netflix content: Netflix content from different countries can be unblocked by simply using a VPN or a proxy and pretending to be from another country. Services like Smartflix and FlixSearch let users search for all countries, making it easier than VPN to use. Netflix plans to use automated filters to block the use of such applications, trying to ensure users can access only content from the country they currently are.
Locked content: Netflix’s content is severely locked. A look at FlixSearch hints that India gets around 757 titles, the US 5743 titles, the UK 2982 titles and so on. Other than South Korea and Russia, India seems to have the lowest content of all. Content blocked in India includes Netflix’s original shows like the House of Cards. The company currently charges Indian users Rs 650 for its mid tier plan, which costs ~$10 (Rs 600) in the US, making the plan slightly more expensive in India. With Netflix now wanting to stop users from unblocking content, it becomes really hard to recommend the relatively expensive streaming service.
There is no House of Cards in Indian Netflix cos they sold the rights to Zee TV channel. Netflix original content. Not available on Netflix
— Naren Balaji (@narenbalaji) January 6, 2016
MediaNama’s take: It is understandable Netflix has to comply with content holders for restricting broadcast in certain countries. A show playing on TV in India or the US might not be running on TV in the other country. This leads to situations where content holders would rather not have Netflix stream their shows/movies in countries where TV channels are currently broadcasting the show.
However, many of Netflix’s own original shows are also not on the platform, as it licences them to TV channels. This significantly devalues Netflix’s value proposition; why should users pay for Netflix if they are better off waiting for the company to license its shows? especially when these shows are no longer made available to Netflix’s own subscribers, as is the case with House of Cards and a few of its other originals. At the end of the day, it looks like torrents will continue to be the easiest way for Indians to access global content.