How to Unblock Netflix in 2019
Netflix began as a service for people to rent DVDs which were mailed directly to their homes, which eliminated the need for physical video stores by offering a greater level of convenience, coupled with better pricing. As technology advanced, Netflix pivoted quickly to become a video streaming service that now dominates the streaming market with a staggering 118 million users and counting.
Netflix isn’t a service that’s available to everyone, everywhere. Subscribers in various locations around the world have access to different libraries of content based on where they live. This means that the hottest new movie may make it to the Canadian Netflix library, for example, but not be available in the United States. This has resulted in many subscribers trying to circumvent Netflix’s location blocks in order to access the complete range of Netflix content.
This guide will show you how to unblock Netflix in your country so that you can access a greater selection of content from around the world.
Why does Netflix block content?
You may be wondering why Netflix feels the need to block content to certain users based on geography. After all, wouldn't it make more sense just to make the entire library of television shows and movies available to everyone?
The truth is, Netflix isn’t necessarily the culprit behind blocked content. The real reason content is blocked has to do with licensing agreements.
While Netflix has been steadily creating its own content, which can be made available in every country around the world, much of the content that people watch is created by movie studios and television networks that Netflix purchases licenses from in order to host and stream the content. A television network in one country may be happy to license their new hit show to Netflix in other areas of the world, but refuse to offer that license locally so that people are forced to watch the show on cable or satellite where the network can sell advertisements.
Netflix also competes for content licenses with other streaming services like Amazon Prime and Hulu. In some countries, Amazon Prime may have an exclusive license to the programming. As a result, Netflix is unable to make that program available in the library in that country. If Netflix were simply to ignore these licensing agreements, it would upset movie studios and TV networks, and potentially even be subject to legal action.
Will Netflix ever unblock content?
If Netflix is such a powerful company, why don’t they just throw money at the problem or simply refuse to block content for users?
While this would be a short term benefit for users, it would be disastrous for Netflix in the long run. Content creators would refuse to license to Netflix, and the library would begin to dwindle quickly.
In an attempt to curtail this, Netflix has started to crack-down on things and block content even more effectively than years past. Some subscribers that used to circumvent regional blocks have recently discovered that the services and hacking methods they were using no longer work. That’s because Netflix found ways to identify these black-hat methods and disable streaming for users who were accessing content that's not available in their home country. Again, this was largely done to appease content creators who wanted to ensure that their licensing agreements in certain countries were being honored.
As a result, subscribers have had to look for new ways to get around regional blocks to access Netflix, and the most common solution is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
How VPNs bypass Netflix blocking
There are many uses for a VPN, like ensuring privacy by encrypting data between your device and the server you are communicating with. Another important feature of many VPN services is the ability to unblock region locked content on Netflix and other streaming services.
So, how is this done?
When you connect to a VPN server, you are connecting to a remote server that passes on your request to the server of the company or service you are dealing with. As a result, the remote server appears to be you in the eyes of Netflix and, if that server is located in a different country than where you are located, the Netflix library will change accordingly.
So, for example, say that you are in France, but you want to access the US Netflix library. You would use a VPN service to mask your French-based IP address, and choose a US server through the VPN. Once you do this, you would then login to your Netflix account, and from there, be able to access Netflix's American based content library of TV shows and movies.
And since data is encrypted, there is no way for Netflix to check incoming data to see if it was originally generated in a certain country. So, in layman's terms, a VPN makes Netflix believe you are sitting in a completely different location watching their content.
The best VPNs for unblocking Netflix
While most VPNs offer a similar range of services, not all will work to unblock Netflix. Some VPNs are able to be detected by Netflix and users will encounter errors asking them to turn off their VPN service before streaming.
Here are the top 3 VPNs to use to unblock Netflix.
ExpressVPN is one of the most highly rated VPNs on the market. The company has over 160 servers in more than 90 countries, which gives users access to Netflix content from an almost limitless number of places worldwide. Best of all, Express VPN offers the fastest speeds of all VPN providers. This means that subscribers won’t notice significant buffering or quality reduction when they try to stream television shows and movies. Plus, with one-click connections, Express VPN is simple and extremely user-friendly, even for people who are not technologically savvy.
NordVPN is another popular VPN provider that can be used to circumvent the geo blocking put in place by Netflix. The company is constantly adding new servers to try and stay ahead of Netflix, and has one of the largest selections of servers available. While NordVPN doesn’t offer the same fast speeds as Express VPN, the service is still very good and subscribers can consistently rely on it to assist in accessing Netflix libraries from around the world.
TorGuard is one of the most trusted names in the VPN industry. It's important to note, however, that their approach to unblocking Netflix is a little more complex than the previously mentioned providers. When subscribers sign up, they can pay an additional fee for a dedicated streaming IP address in the country of their choice.
Since the IP address is dedicated to a subscribers TorGuard account, it makes it very difficult for Netflix to recognize the address as a VPN service that's being used specifically for unblocking Netflix content. This is because there aren’t hundreds or thousands of people on the same IP address, which keeps it under the radar of Netflix, who is well-known for blocking VPN servers.
Unblocking Netflix while traveling
A common reason that users may encounter for wanting unblock Netflix is simply to be able to access the library of content available in their home country while traveling abroad. It can be very disappointing to settle into your hotel room only to find the show you have been binge watching at home is no longer available for streaming.
A VPN service allows you to connect to a server back in your home country, which will then give you access to the same library of content that's normally available to you. No need to wait until you travel home to continue watching new episodes of your favorite shows.
Another problem encountered while traveling is the fact that many hotels block Netflix completely. Sometimes this is done to prevent people from using all of the hotel’s available wi-fi bandwidth for streaming. In other cases, the hotel simply wants people to purchase content through the hotel’s entertainment system, which can be expensive. Connecting to a VPN encrypts the data and makes it impossible for the hotel to see what content is being accessed. As a result, the Netflix block is rendered completely ineffective.
Unblocking Netflix at school
Many schools feel that Netflix is a distraction to students, and that it prevents them from learning. As such, many school wi-fi networks completely block access to Netflix to try and keep students on task. Unfortunately, however, this blanket blocking of Netflix can have unintended consequences.
For example, this means that students can’t enjoy Netflix during lunch breaks or empty class blocks. It also prevents students from watching content like educational documentaries that may pertain to their learning. In both of these cases, a VPN can get around this block.
All VPN providers offer a variety of software options for devices including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and browser extensions. This means that students can use desktop computers, tablets and even use their smartphones to watch Netflix, as long as they are connected to the correct VPN server.
Unblocking Netflix at home (to stop your ISP from snooping)
Internet service providers can see everything you are doing on the internet if you do not use a VPN. Why does this matter for streaming Netflix? It’s not like you need to hide the fact you enjoy binge watching television shows on the weekend.
It boils down to the quality of your stream. Many internet service providers offer vertically integrated services. This means that your internet provider may also be your television provider and they may even have a streaming service of their own. In some cases, these providers may choose to throttle Netflix streaming in order to point users toward other streaming options or traditional cable television. When they throttle the stream, you may get buffering while streaming or be unable to stream in the highest quality resolution.
However, if you are using a VPN, your ISP can’t see what you’re doing online. They don’t know that you’re watching Netflix and, therefore, can’t selectively throttle your internet activity in order to subtly promote their own products or services. You can use a VPN and ensure that you get the best Netflix performance possible.
A step-by-step guide to unblocking Netflix
Even for people who aren’t very tech savvy, unblocking Netflix is a fairly easy task. This step-by-step guide breaks it all down for you.
1. Choose a VPN provider
The VPN providers referenced above are all great options to consider, although it's important to note that other VPN services can also unblock Netflix. When evaluating your options, consider your budget and look for a service that is reliable, delivers fast speeds, and is an overall great value.
2. Install VPN software
Download the VPN providers software onto your preferred device(s) and log into the service. If you're a more advanced user, you may be able to access your wi-fi router’s admin settings and enable VPN services for your entire network rather than installing VPN software on each device you plan to use.
3. Connect to a VPN server
This is the most important step for unblocking Netflix and accessing the content you want to watch. Once the VPN software is installed, you will be able to browse the available servers. Some services may only have certain servers set up to handle Netflix streaming, so you should look into this to avoid a lot of trial and error. Once a server is selected, simply click the option to connect to it. With services like Express VPN, the connection process simply requires one click.
4. Start watching Netflix
Now that you’re connected to a VPN server, it’s time to sit back and relax. Choose the video you want to watch and enjoy! In some cases, it may be necessary to clear your browser history and cache, or possibly even restart the device to ensure Netflix recognizes the new VPN server you are connected to.
Accessing Netflix isn't impossible if you know what you're doing
Blocks put in place by Netflix, governments, and/or network owners can prevent subscribers from streaming the content they truly want to watch. A VPN service is the easiest way to circumvent these types of blocks. Plus, VPN's offer additional benefits, like the ability to secure your privacy and maintain your anonymity.