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Netflix Halts Access by Proxy

15 Jan, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

For years, savvy Netflix users accessed the streaming service despite living in territories void of legal access. Using proxy services or Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) based in the United States enabled these users to access content surreptitiously — a reality Netflix largely ignored.

No more. With Netflix earlier this month announcing access to an additional 130 countries — on top of 60 countries previously operational, the SVOD pioneer said it would employ technology limiting the use of proxies and “unblockers” to the country where users reside.

In a blog post, David Fullagar, VP of content delivery architecture at Netflix, used the move as a veiled shout-out to content holders to grant Netflix global streaming rights.

“If all of our content were globally available, there wouldn’t be a reason for members to use proxies … to fool our systems into thinking they’re in a different country than they’re actually in,” Fullagar wrote Jan. 14.

Wedbush Securities media analyst contends 10% of Netflix’s international base, equating to around 2 million users, employed VPNs, notably in Australia and Europe.

“That means that people in France may be watching “House of Cards” via VPN, but that content is licensed to Canal+ in France,” Pachter said, adding the change is a prudent step to ensure compliance with content contracts.

“I don't know if this is proactive or was pushed by content owners, but it's the right thing to do,” he said.

Netflix said it is confident the change won’t impact many users.

“We look forward to offering all of our content everywhere and to consumers being able to enjoy all of Netflix without using a proxy,” Fullagar wrote.

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