- 2 years ago


Reports of Canadians helping themselves to regular servings of American Netflix are nothing new. But did you know that the U.S. Netflix offerings are being consumed in countries where the streaming giant hasn’t even launched?

The Sydney Morning Herald ran a piece Wednesday about this trend, citing data from a new study by personal finance site Pocketbook. The study shows Netflix as the second-most-popular paid-content media company in Australia, despite the fact that the popular streaming service is not even available there and is actively geo-blocked from Australian users. The most alarming stat: Netflix owns 27% of the Australians currently using media subscription or rental services.

Quickflix, the Australian offering which has only been streaming TV and movies since 2011, levies an additional cost for its premium content over and above the $9.99 monthly subscription rate. The Pocketbook report reveals the service is losing customers to Netflix, and could be in trouble once Netflix launches in the land down under. A comparison of the user interface and content available between the two services is certainly unfavourable for the Aussie company.

Here in Canada, a telephone poll by The Media Technology Monitor surveyed 2,002 anglophone Canadians; the survey was conducted in the spring and asked respondents about their tech habits and routines. 32% of those surveyed said they were Netflix subscribers, up from the 25% from a similar poll conducted last spring. What’s interesting about the MTM survey this year is that more than one-third of Canadian Netflix users are implementing some sort of service that mask their IP address to trick Netflix into thinking their computer is in the United States.

Really, though, is Netflix honestly being tricked here? We’ve seen countless stories in the tech press about how VPN services like Unblock-Us, Wamjam, Hola and others can easily get around the New King of All Media’s (sorry, Howard Stern) geo-blocking mechanisms. Netflix knows full well this is happening, and in all likelihood they simply don’t care. You can be sure that if all this not-so-clandestine access was painting their bottom line in red, they’d be acting upon it. And fast. Other streaming sites and services do a very good job of geo-blocking Canadians who use these IP-masking services, so it isn’t a technology issue for Netflix.

It’s a business decision, and right now, it makes no business sense for them to deny access. That may come in the future, but until then, non-Americans need to enjoy this while we can.