There has been a lot of back-and-forth on the possibility of Netflix blocking global customers using Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to access content available to only US audiences – with Netflix’s executives saying the company would not be pushing ahead with such plans.
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But that does not appear to be the case as Netflix has obviously started blocking some Australian customers – against its earlier promise, while VPN companies are starting to act up to protect their business and show the video streaming service that whatever steps it takes to block customers can only be temporal.
Based in Melbourne, uFlix, among other VPN firms around the world configures Netflix customers’ IP addresses and DNS settings to make it appear as if they are located in the US and to be able to access content accessed by US audiences – regardless of their locations in the world.
Now Netflix is blocking these proxy services while the VPN firms are exploring other avenues to keep their customers glued to Netflix.
“You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy,” Netflix reportedly wrote to customers in Australia. “Please turn off any of these services and try again.”
Peter Dujan, managing director of uFlix disclosed he does not think the blocking to be very aggressive at the moment and that Netflix is probably testing new blocking methods on customers – given that only a few customers have received the message in Australia - The Sydney Morning Herald writes.
"We suspect that they are blocking known IP ranges and gaining additional information from the user's browser or mobile device and comparing it to the proxy and user IP addresses," Dujan said. "It is a last-ditch effort to keep an archaic business model alive."
His words reflect the positions of many VPN firms, saying they will look for other means to sidestep Netflix and beat it at its own game. “At the end of the day it’s simply a game of cat and mouse, and this is our job. So let’s play,” Dujan had added.
To this extent, many VPN services will not mind switching servers if it comes to it to keep their business and beat Netflix, meaning that the proxy services will ultimately be ahead of the video streaming company in all ways.
And there is another thing: analysts think blocking customers will affect Netflix’s customer base and lead to piracy of its services, something that won’t play out well for Netflix in the long run.
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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings during a speech at the recently concluded CES 2016 in Nevada said his company is only “a prisoner of the current distribution architecture,” adding that within the next 5-10 years, Netflix may not need to restrict anyone again but open up the floor to all global customers.