South Africans who use virtual private networking (VPN) services to watch the US version of Netflix could soon find their access blocked.
Netflix vice-president of content delivery architecture David Fullagar warned in a post on the subscription video-on-demand platform’s website on Thursday night that “in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are”.
The development appears to be bad news for those who access Netflix’s US catalogue, which is substantially larger than the library of content that the company provides elsewhere in the world, including South Africa.
VPN services typically mask a user’s Internet protocol address, allowing them to “fool” services like Netflix, Hulu and others into thinking they’re located in a different territory to where they actually are. Some experts in the video entertainment industry estimate that tens of thousands of South Africans use VPNs, which typically cost between US$4 and $10/month, to access Netflix and other international services.
The news that Netflix plans to crack down on VPN use comes in the same month that the company expanded its services to 190 countries around the world, including South Africa. Netflix charges from US$7,99/month for access to its content from South Africa.
“We are making progress in licensing content across the world … but we have a ways (sic) to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere,” said Fullagar.
“Over time, we anticipate being able to do so. 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.
“Some members use proxies or ‘unblockers’ to access titles available outside their territory. To address this, we employ the same or similar measures other firms do. This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it. That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are. We are confident this change won’t impact members not using proxies,” he said.
“We look forward to offering all of our content everywhere and to consumers being able to enjoy all of Netflix without using a proxy. That’s the goal we will keep pushing towards.” — (c) 2015 NewsCentral Media