Is Netflix Better in the USA?

TL;DR – Yes, yes it is. But Japan is better!

Last December I finally got around to writing my Linux server setup guide after a lot of procrastination. I listed accessing services that are geo-blocked under the uses of OpenVPN, with Netflix as an example.

Due to the stupid way TV shows and films are still licenced in the internet age, the US version of Netflix has more content than the UK version. According to the US version has 12% more content and Japan has over 30% more (as of writing).

So I rented a virtual private server (VPS) from a hosting company in the USA and setup OpenVPN. Logging into Netflix, I could see straight away the there were big recently released movies available which didn’t show up when going through a UK connection. Unfortunately I couldn’t watch anything. It turns out the Netflix started cracking down on people using VPN’s for this activity and blocking IP addresses of large hosting companies. (This is done because many of the commercial VPN services just rent servers from hosting companies).

Thwarted, I gave up and finished writing my guide.

Then I decided to write this post and immediately started procrastinating. First I spent way to long trying to setup a VPN on a Azure virtual machine, but I’d already used all my free usage. I do plan to revisit this though. The next idea I has was Tor! It does take a while of connecting to circuits until you get the exit node where you want, but eventually I got one in the USA.

Amazingly it worked! Tor is by no means the best way to do this, the bandwidth can be pretty low (more exit nodes are needed). In theory at least it is still possible to watch Netflix from other countries.

For now they best bet is to sign up to a VPN service that still works with Netflix, but don’t count on it lasting long. Hopefully the industry will eventually catch up and realise that on the internet, there is no such thing as distance. All this kind of geographical restrictions does is drive people to torrenting.

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