Aussie Netflix addicts went ballistic last week after the streaming service started blocking them from accessing its much bigger US catalogue. But less than a week after the crackdown came into effect, third-party "unblocking" providers say they've already found ways to circumvent the problem, with their customers happily tuning into US Netflix again.
The game of cat and mouse between Netflix and services which get around its geoblocking is well and truly on. Photo: iStock
Melbourne-based proxy service uFlix, which uses "smart DNS" technology to trick Netflix into thinking you're based in the US, said it was "still digging into" the detail of the issue but things were up and running again for its customers.
uFlix managing director Peter Dujan wouldn't go into detail about how uFlix had engineered the fix but said: "Everything is working and we have very happy customers." When a customer asked uFlix on its Facebook page whether the service had moved to a new server, a representative replied that "a mixture of a few different things" had worked.
Marvel's Jessica Jones is a popular original Netflix series. Photo: Netflix
"We are still seeing exactly how deep this rabbit hole goes," they wrote.
Previously Mr Dujan has described the fight between unblocking services and Netflix as "a game of cat and mouse" where unblockers inevitably find ways to circumvent a crackdown, and Netflix has to catch up. uFlix customer Richard Boulton said he hoped uFlix would be able to keep one step ahead of Netflix.
Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings. Photo: Bloomberg
Another popular unblocking service, Getflix, said it too had found a way around the geo-block.
In a tweet, the company said it had made system updates which ensured its "most popular Netflix regions" were not affected by recent changes to Netflix's service. The workarounds couldn't have come sooner for the many Netflix customers who threatened to cancel their subscriptions in the wake of the company's crackdown on so-called "geo-dodging".
uNoGS lets you browse Netflix everywhere. Photo: David Paul Morris
"When I heard the news I was unsure if you [Getflix] could still provide access [to the Netflix US library]," Chris Cumberland posted on Getflix's Facebook page. "But now I know I'll be continuing my subscription."
Another Getflix user, Brayden Hulett, said he was "thrilled to know that Getflix have been so proactive about this".
According to website Netflixable, which tracks new titles as they are released to Netflix in each region, Netflix's US catalogue is almost three times as large as Australia's, at about 6900 titles compared to about 2500. While Netflix owns global licensing rights to most of its original series, such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, many other titles are constrained by content licensing arrangements which differ from region to region.
Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings has said in the past that Netflix is working to break down these archaic business models. He also said the company's decision to step up enforcement of geo-blocking was at the behest of the film and television studios which own the rights to its streaming content.
How To Watch Anything You Want On Netflix
Well, not quite anything – but anything Netflix has the rights to stream in at least one country.
Now that you know how to get around the geo-blocking offensive, you'll want to know how to make the most of Netflix's global catalogue. Each country's Netflix catalogue differs, which means that even though the US Netflix is bigger than Australia's, you might find a title here or there in the Australian catalogue – or some other country – that is missing from the US catalogue.
Introducing "uNoGS" – or the unofficial Netflix online Global Search – a new website that lets you search Netflix's catalogue across all countries where it's active. (Which is now almost everywhere.) You can search by the country available, title, genre, length and release date; and you can filter by ratings from IMDb and from Netflix itself.
It's simply a matter of finding out which country has the title you're after, and changing your (not blocked) internet proxy or VPN settings so that Netflix thinks you're in that country. You'll then be browsing that country's Netflix library within the Netflix app, and can locate the title from there. uNoGS also provides its own pointers on which VPN, proxy or DNS provider to use for the region you want, although we can't guarantee any of these has found a workaround to the recent crackdown.
The site's creator, Brian, told TorrentFreak he built uNoGS for himself because the few similar services that existed were "extremely limited in terms of search functionality".
"I wanted to be able to see what was available in every country, when it was added, when it was supposed to expire and when it actually expired," he said. "Once I completed the initial build for myself I decided to share it with everyone."
"Your sense when you're in the VR experience is you're in Nyarri's country," she says. "You're invited there. You are welcomed and you understand for this brief period of time you're fortunate enough to be present."