Although there are discordant tunes to this effect, it is well known that Netflix is not happy that its users are accessing certain content that are not licensed in their own countries, and has been threatening to cut off such users by blocking their VPN or the proxy service they use to access such unlicensed content.
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But analysts believe Netflix will not succeed much if it proceeds with this threat – based on a number of reasons.
When Netflix restricts people from being able to view content viewed by US consumers, they end up paying for VPN services in order to get round their geographical restrictions – making them appear as if they are in the US.
Netflix is currently available in 190 countries, even though 189 of these are restricted one way or the other from viewing content US audiences are watching. Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer for Netflix had earlier stated that the company would blacklist VPN access for those using the service, effecting blocking out people in restricted countries from watching some content.
David Fullagar, VP of Content Delivery Architecture for Netflix followed up on Hunt’s comment by saying the company is not going ahead with any such threats, and that “we will continue to respect and enforce content licensing by geographic location.”
The fact however remains that Netflix will have a hard time implementing this threat because VPN providers will not sit idle and watch themselves lose business. In fact, TorGuard declared in a post that:
“For those of you who rely on TorGuard VPN service to unblock Netflix content unrestricted, you don’t have to worry. Netflix will be pushing this plan forward soon, and when that happens, TorGuard will immediately deploy new server IP addresses so users can still bypass blocks.”
That says it all. The more Netflix blocks the IP addresses of VPN providers, the more they will switch IPs until Netflix backs down. Hulu also did the same with VPN providers in the past but never went far with it. Another thing Netflix will want to consider is that blocking access to US content will trigger large-scale loss of subscribers – long term.
Meanwhile, some content holders might want exclusive rights to their content in their own geographical zones, creating a conflict of interest to Netflix. The video streaming company will have a difficult time restricting the content of their providers and at the same time giving consumers what they want to watch.
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Netflix will also be mindful of the fact that Amazon and other competitors will want to jump in on markets it is trying to restrict. And then, in the event that Netflix blocks the reputable VPN providers it knows, individual users could go ahead and register their own VPN service.