×

Netflix Vows to Shut Down Proxy Users Who Bypass Country Restrictions

Netflix, which now offers streaming service in some 190 nations, says it’s going to bring the hammer down on people who circumvent country-based content licensing restrictions using proxies or “unblockers.”

Within the next few weeks, Netflix subscribers using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they are currently located, VP of content delivery architecture David Fullagar wrote in a blog post.

Fullagar acknowledged that people use such tools because Netflix doesn’t offer the same content in globally.

“We are 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,” he wrote. “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.”

Fullagar’s post didn’t provide details on what new technical changes Netflix plans to implement to enforce the content restrictions. “We are confident this change won’t impact members not using proxies,” he wrote.

Popular on Variety

A Netflix rep, asked for more info, said only that the company “uses a variety of technologies to properly geolocate members and to avoid attempts to circumvent proper geolocation.”

A veritable cottage industry of startups has sprung up to sell proxy and virtual private network services that let Internet users access Netflix — and other geo-blocked services — from restricted territories. For example, those allow someone located in the U.K. to access programming available only to U.S.-based subscribers.

Netflix’s terms of use explicitly forbid the use of proxies or other bypass mechanisms. “You may view a movie or TV show through the Netflix service… only in geographic locations where we offer our service and have licensed such movie or TV show,” the company says.

But that hasn’t stopped millions of consumers from turning to proxies to get around that rule. More than 30 million users accessed the service monthly from countries where Netflix had not yet launched, per a study in January 2015 by GlobalWebIndex. Of those, 21.6 million were in China — a massive market where Netflix faces several hurdles — the firm estimated.

The move by Netflix to more rigorously enforce geographical content-licensing rights indicates that it’s responding to studio and content partners concerned that viewership of movies and shows via Netflix from non-licensed territories will impinge their other distribution deals in those areas. The company may also be seeking to limit account-sharing among subscribers.

“This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it,” Fullagar wrote in his post.

More Digital

  • Gary Levine and Jana Winograde Showtime

    Showtime, HBO Broaden Scope as Parent Companies Aim to Grow Their Audiences

    For years, the halo around premium cablers such as HBO and Showtime has been integral to their branding. Their parent companies in a past life — Time Warner and CBS, respectively — seemed to be content with the tens of millions of subscribers each had accumulated. But now, shepherded by new corporate owners — AT&T’s [...]

  • Josh Simon - Netflix

    Netflix Hires Nike Exec Josh Simon as VP of Consumer Products

    Netflix’s burgeoning consumer products group has a new boss: Josh Simon, who is leaving Nike to join the streaming giant. Simon, who’s also a Disney and Color Force alum, has been named VP of consumer products for Netflix. Based in L.A., he will start at the company the week of March 2 to oversee the [...]

  • Bob Chapek Disney CEO

    Why Wall Street Is Unhappy (for Now) With Disney's CEO Change

    We all knew the end was coming. Bob Iger had promised, time and again, that the end was coming. But the rather abrupt announcement Tuesday afternoon that he would relinquish his longtime role as CEO of the Walt Disney Co. — and that theme parks head Bob Chapek would succeed him at the top of [...]

  • FandangoNow - Amazon Fire TV

    Fandango's Video Streaming Service Lands on Amazon Fire TV

    FandangoNow, the on-demand transactional movie and TV service from NBCUniversal-owned Fandango, is now available on Amazon Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition Smart TVs. The expansion to Amazon’s TV hardware platform comes as Fandango vies to get a bigger slice of the digital-entertainment pie — competing with Amazon Video, as well as Apple, Google [...]

  • The Spanish Princess Starz

    Starz CEO Jeffrey Hirsch Lifts Lid on Local Originals Drive for SVOD Starzplay

    Starz CEO Jeffrey Hirsch has outlined the local originals strategy for Starzplay, revealing that a slate of shows are being planned out of the Middle East and India as the business looks to complement its U.S. and English-language pipeline of content. Speaking at the Berlinale Series Market and Conference on Wednesday, the executive told Variety that the [...]

  • Netflix-logo-N-icon

    Netflix Adds Deals With Six Anime Creators in Japan

    Global streaming giant, Netflix is partnering with six different Japanese creators in order to expand its slate of originals anime content. Among the deals are ones with Clamp, the female manga collective that was responsible for the “Cardcaptor Sakura” franchise. Another is with Mari Yamazaki, whose “Thermae Romae” manga was turned into two hit live-action [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content