Netflix on VPN: The Show Goes On

It’s an open secret that non-US Netflix subscribers can access the US version of the service using a VPN or DNS unblocking service. Large numbers of Netflix users are doing exactly that everyday to access content that is not available in their country. It’s not a surprise that a false report last week about Netflix cracking down on customers using VPNs instantly made it to the front page of many news websites.

It turns out this report was false. Neil Hunt, Netflix’s Chief Product Officer, denied those claims at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

The claims that we have changed our policy on virtual private networks (VPN) are false. People who are using a VPN to access our service from outside of the area will find that it still works exactly as it has always done.

According to Hunt, Netflix has long used “the same VPN block list that everyone else uses,” and that it can only do so much to stop users from bypassing the geographical content restrictions.

We asked IPVanish what they thought about these issues. IPVanish answered:

Netflix has come out several times stating that ‘they do not block VPNs.’ Therefore, we don’t think that our users have any problem connecting to their service. Netflix primarily determines what content a customer is allowed to watch by examining their IP address. A user could simply switch to a different server to bypass Netflix’s geo-filtering in the unlikely event that they run into a problem. We constantly add new servers and IP addresses, and it would be very difficult for Netflix to block every possible IP.

Netflix users can still access shows that aren’t available in their countries using VPN, and that is unlikely to change in the near future.

However, Netflix did say that they blacklist known VPNs in accordance with their provider agreements. Users of commercial VPN services are advised to choose providers who routinely add new IP addresses so they can easily switch to a different IP address when access is blocked. Techies may well consider setting up their own VPN servers to best circumvent IP blocking.

Update:
Netflix recently added “Google DNS service” to their Android mobile app as a “failsafe” in the event a user’s own DNS is failing. This may affect the “Smart DNS” work-around many people use to access Netflix abroad; however, this change wouldn’t affect VPN users.

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