Netflix Geo Blocking has been the cause of many debates in recent years – and is now facing major changes, due to a new European ruling. Basically, it means that Netflix’ content changes across different countries, due to licensing agreements – so one movie will be available to watch on Netflix in the US, for example, but will not be available to Netflix users in the UK, because the rights to that movie, in the United Kingdom, might already have been sold to a different broadcaster.
Things get a bit more complicated when you travel across countries. If, for example, you go on holiday in Germany, you can still use your Netflix subscription while you’re there – but your selection is going to change. Once you’re IN Germany, you’re going to see Netflix’ German content library on your device – so some of the programmes you’ve been watching back home won’t be available to you, and other programmes – which weren’t available – will suddenly be there for you watch.
These difference had led in the past to the blossoming of VPN and “Smart DNS” services that promised to “unblock” Netflix’ geo blocking. So by using those services, you could “virtually” jump between countries, and get access to the different libraries offered by Netflix in different countries. (The American version of Netflix was understandably the most popular one, with thousands of titles more than the UK version).
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Last year, however, Netflix declared war on these VPN services and Geo Blocking Unblockers (as using them is against Netflix’ terms of service), and most of them eventually disappeared.
Now, however, things are going to change again, due to new legislation (which still needs to be finalised) by the European Parliament. According to the new rules, which also apply to other paid streaming services, EU citizens will have access to their content – the same content they have at home – when they’re travelling across the EU.
Netflix (and the other streaming service providers) will have to verify the user’s “home” address, using tools such as “payment details, public tax information, postal address details or IP address checks”, and then show him his home content wherever he goes across the EU.
At this point, it is still unclear how this will fold out for Netflix users: One possibility (which is less likely with the way TV licensing currently works) is that Netflix will open the EU border completely, and the entire EU will have a single content library.
The other possibility, is that Netflix will set a permanent “home base” for every user, and his country’s content library will follow him around wherever he goes. So when you’re travelling to Germany, you will not get the German library, but will keep seeing the UK library, even though someone sitting next to you on the train (who is German based) will see the German content library.
A Netflix representative told Digital Spy that they’re waiting for the EU legislation to be finalised, before making any changes.
“We are waiting to see the final text of the EU commission. When travelling, Netflix members already have access to the catalogue of the country they are in, globally.”
It remains to be seen what effect this will have on our Netflix viewing habits when travelling. One thing to keep in mind is that all the newer Netflix Originals (the ones produced by Netflix like Daredevil, Stranger Things, etc’) are available in ALL the countries where Netflix is present.