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Netflix Clamps Down on Geo-Dodging Users

Photo of remote control with Netflix button (Photo Credit: televisione @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/televisione/18526855496/, CC 2.0)
Sean Fang Sat, 16/01/2016 - 16:01

Netflix has started taking steps to prevent Australian Netflix subscribers from accessing Netflix content from other regions, an act that's sometimes referred to as "geo-dodging".

Due to licensing restrictions, Netflix can only ever offer a subset of its vast content library to users depending on where they are located. Netflix does have a travel friendly feature that allows the same account to work in any region where Netflix is already available, but the content available would depend on your current region. So Australians travelling to the UK can still watch Netflix, but only the shows available to UK subscribers.

But by employing VPN and smart DNS solutions, users can take advantage of the Netflix travel feature andfool Netflix's servers into thinking they are actually in a different location, without leaving the comfort of their home - and best of all, they can switch regions at the click of a button, as many times as they want.

Up until now, Netflix has turned a blind eye to geo-dodging, and has even taken advantage of it to build up their userbase in regions without Netflix prior to its official launch. It is said that Netflix already had 340,000 subscribers in Australia prior to its official launch thanks to geo-dogding, and it's something that has helped the company fight off local streaming rivals Stan and Presto.

While Netflix may benefit from geo-dodging, license holders such as Hollywood studios are keen to prevent it, as it negative affects their plans to extract the most amount of money from each market. It is suspected that rights-holders are the ones putting pressure on Netflix to deal with the geo-dodging problem.

Australian consumer advocacy group CHOICE has referred to Netflix's latest move as "bait-and-switch", accusing the streaming giant of taking advantage of geo-dodging when it suited them, and now leaving subscribers with a poorer library of choices. CHOICE has started a new campaign asking users to submit their tips on how to continue geo-dodging, tips that they will collect and publish for the " less savvy consumers".

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