At the start of 2016 Netflix promised to crack down on users using VPN services to access content from other regions. Although many thought this was just Netflix playing lip service to rights holders they actually followed through on it and in the past 4 months users have found it almost impossible to access content not intended for their region.
Users reacted furiously as in some countries the catalogue of movies and shows available is rather poor, sometimes even more than half of what is accessible on the US Netflix site.
The result of the blockade is that some users have cancelled their Netflix accounts and are looking for other sources of entertainment, in the case of a few piracy is the answer.
Canadian outlet CBC reports that Canadian users are so unhappy with the recent VPN crackdown that they’re increasingly turning to illegal sources to access content faster and easier than the alternative paid systems.
Although Canadian users were happy to pay CAD$10 plus another US$10 on top for a VPN service to access extra content totalling a hefty £13.50 it would appear that they’re not happy to pay the CAD$10 just for the Netflix service. It’s no surprise when the Canadian catalogue contained only 3425 videos compared with their US counterparts who had access to around 5661.
Prague resident Pavol Rusnak visualised the catalogue differences in a global map showing that Canadians are not alone with Australians having access to just 2205 videos, the UK 3010 videos and countries such as Portugal a meagre 932.
Netflix catalogue differences by country.
CBC interviewed Toronto native Suzan Lorenz who is so upset about the recent VPN crackdown that she claimed “I think I might be saying goodbye to Netflix and go the truly illegal route”.
Lorenz had access to Netflix for around a year and used a VPN service to access a greater catalogue of shows and movies from around the world for both herself and her family. After the crackdown began in January Lorenz found herself froze out of foreign access and now only has a choice of Canadian Netflix options.
Clearly frustrated with losing access to her favourite shows Lorenz told CBC “It’s kind of frustrating because you try to be legal, you try to be above board. And they’re just big bullies and I’m really tired of big bullies.”
Lorenz isn’t alone and research shows that Canadians especially are unfazed when it comes to accessing their favourite shows. As the world has become smaller due to the penetration of the internet users are now more than ever unwilling to accept virtual borders when it comes to content access and with spoilers and other trailers teasing users in countries where content isn’t available then it is inevitable that some users will turn to piracy.
Canadian research company Convergence Consulting Group found that users will find ways to access the content they want regardless of restrictions which in the case of the Netflix VPN crackdown will be piracy. However if affordable paid solutions are available then users are much more willing to stump up the cash and go the legal route.
The recent Netflix VPN crackdown has made something completely clear, if users can’t access the content they want by paying for it then they’ll certainly have no issue downloading it for free and the only losers in this instance will be the content rights holders and possibly Netflix themselves.