Netflix, with all its streaming goodness, is really going places. The company started in 1997 with a mail order DVD subscription service before developing into the 70 million subscriber phenomenon that we know it to be today. The new year kicked off with the company announcing that it has expanded into even more territories, bringing its availability to 190 countries worldwide.
With this news and the revelation that the number of original shows - following the like of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black - will double in 2016, it's hardly surprising that in some regions where it's not yet launched, 30 million people are using proxies to access this film and tv treasure trove. But the problem doesn't stop there as some people in regions where it is available use these unblockers - which essentially fake your location - to access shows only available in other regions.
As tempting as that may sound, this get-around won't be accessible much longer. Netflix have recently announced that they will be cracking down on this bypass mechanism - that its term of use explicitly forbids. David Fullagar, VP of content delivery architecture, announced in a blog post (via Variety):
“We are making progress in licensing content across the world… but we have a way to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere. For now, given the historic practice of licensing content by geographic territories, the TV shows and movies we offer differ, to varying degrees, by territory. In the meantime, we will continue to respect and enforce content licensing by geographic location.”
While its clear where Netflix stands on the issue, it's not made clear what the technological changes will be that'll implement this region restriction. Also, having reiterated the practice of licensing content by area, it's clear that the streaming giant is responding to their content partners. These providers are concerned that their distribution deals will be affected by proxy users in territories that don't yet have official access to the service.
The move - along with talk of limiting subscriber sharing - may benefit the company and its relationship with partners in the short-term. But what with worldwide access to the same films and TV series being still a long while off, Netflix users will still want to consume shows available elsewhere and will find ways of doing it. For all Netflix knows this action could lead to a decline in subscribers if people are restricted enough to resort to piracy. Perhaps a push forward of worldwide access to all content, as and when the law allows, would be the right move. Netflix needs to remember that the customer is always right.