Virtually everyone with an Internet connection has at least heard of Netflix. It is the world’s most popular online streaming service, after all. While it is now present in hundreds of countries, it’s still the American Netflix that attracts the most people. Why? Simply because it is the one with the best content. Much to our dismay, Netflix won’t allow users outside the US to even connect to the American Netflix. And while VPNs are much-used tools to bypass all kinds of geographic restrictions, they don’t always work with Netflix. Netflix, in an effort to better block connection originating from outside the USA, has gotten very good at detecting–and also blocking–connections that use a VPN. So, if you’re a NordVPN user or you’re thinking about subscribing to the service, you might be wondering “Does NordVPN work with the American Netflix?”
Read on and you’ll get the answer to your burning question in just a short while. But first, we start off with some background information about Netflix. We’ll discuss where it’s coming from and how it has recently turned into a TV producer in addition to a streaming service. We will then explore the why and the how or the service’s geo-blocking efforts. Next, we’ll show you how Virtual Private Networks should help you bypass geographic restrictions and how Netflix manages to block connections coming from VPNs. And finally, we’ll conclude our discussion with a short review of the NordVPN service, one of those rare services that do work with the American Netflix.
- 1 Some Background About Netflix
- 2 Why Can’t We Access The American Netflix From Outside the USA?
- 3 The Best Solution To Geo-Blocking – Use A VPN
- 4 NordVPN — A VPN That Works With The American Netflix
- 5 In Conclusion
Some Background About Netflix
Netflix was not always a streaming service. In fact, when Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph started Netflix back in 1997, their business was online DVD rentals. And it stayed that way for ten years with constant growth, passing the 4 million users mark in 2005.
In 2007, Netflix unknowingly revolutionized the world when they launched their streaming service. It started a new era where people could watch rented content instantly on their computer. No need to wait for the delivery of a DVD anymore.
In the following years, Netflix sought partnerships with television set, game console, and media player manufacturers to stream online content directly to their platforms by installing a Netflix client app on their devices.
Through a seemingly unstoppable growth, Netflix is available today on virtually every smart TV, media player, major game console, Android and iOS smartphone and tablet. Although official figures are had to find, we estimate that Netflix has now close to 120 million users worldwide. And this number still keeps increasing, With Netflix now reaching users in 190 some countries with localized versions of the service in most markets.
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Netflix Originals — An Incursion Into TV Production
Netflix Originals represent Netflix’s foray into TV production, and are relatively new having been around since 2003. No longer just a streaming service, Netflix has now become a content producer. They are TV shows produced–or co-produced–by Netflix. Netflix Originals are often highly regarded and successful.
Most Netflix Originals are available exclusively on Netflix although some are available on broadcast TV. Some of the past few years best and most popular TV shows are Netflix Originals. Among them, one can think of Riverdale, that’s currently in its second season on the CW. Immensely popular Netflix Originals also include titles like Stranger Things, Orange Is The New Black, House of Cards, The Crown, and Arrested Development. Marvel superhero series Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Punisher, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Defenders are also part of the Netflix’s Originals family of excellent TV shows
Why Can’t We Access The American Netflix From Outside the USA?
Netflix is basically a content distributor and, as such, they are bound by broadcasting contracts much like any TV broadcaster. This means that they will often secure rights to offer some content in specific markets but not elsewhere. Take the popular TV show The Big bang Theory, for example. Netflix has secured streaming rights for the show in several European markets but not in the US, where the show is rather broadcast on “conventional” TV. Netflix has a contractual obligation to actively prevent users from accessing content that has not been licensed for distribution in each market.
As a streaming provider, the distribution rights to series and movies that Netflix manages to secure are often limited. For example, they own streaming rights to the immensely popular TV show The Big Bang Theory in some European markets but not in the US. Likewise, their own Netflix original content is often available in some markets on broadcast regular TV through agreements that forbid them from making it available on Netflix in these markets. Riverdale is a good example of a show that is not available on Netflix although it is a Netflix Original.
Although we might not be happy about it, due to these distribution restrictions, the available content varies from region to region. Some titles may not be available on your local version of Netflix while they are in the next country. This is always disappointing but there’s not much we can do about it. Or is there? Generally speaking, the American Netflix is considered to be the one with the most content. And it certainly is the one that many non-US users would like to watch, if only they could.
These distribution restrictions are enforced by Netflix by using a well-known technique called geo-blocking. It ensures that users can only access their localized version of Netflix. A user in the US, for example, can only access the American version of Netflix while one in Canada can only access the Canadian version and not the American one.
But this geo-blocking can also be an issue for US residents. What if you’re a US citizen travelling abroad? You won’t be able to watch Netflix. At least, not until you find a way to bypass the geographic blocking.
How Geo-blocking Is Done
Geo-blocking, as it is usually called, is mostly implemented by filtering–that is allowing or denying–traffic based on source IP address. An IP address is a unique numerical identifier assigned to every computer connected to the Internet. It is used to route data to and from different Internet-connected computers and devices. Every request you transmit to Netflix is marked with your IP address. This is what we refer to as the source IP address. The source IP address is how Netflix’s servers will know where to send the video stream you requested.
You can think of IP addresses as postal mailing addresses. And just like postal addresses, there is a direct correlation between IP addresses and physical location. Netflix learns your location by cross-referencing your IP address and can then block or allow your requests based on whether or not you are located in an authorized location.
The Best Solution To Geo-Blocking – Use A VPN
Originally used essentially to allow remote connections to private networks over unsecured public channels, Virtual Private Networks have grown into widespread usage as a way to increase security, privacy and anonymity. VPNs will let you bypass all sorts of access restrictions while making your data virtually invisible. Even someone intercepting your traffic wouldn’t see what you’re doing or where you”re going online.
A VPN operates by setting up a virtual tunnel between your device running a VPN client and a dedicated proxy server in a remote location. All data traveling in and out of your device is sent through the tunnel after being encrypted using strong algorithms that make it impossible to crack. When data from your computer arrives at the VPN server, it is decrypted before being sent out on the Internet.
This is how a VPN can help you access Netflix. When the decrypted data leaves the VPN server, its source IP address is no longer that of your device but the VPN server’s IP address. That makes you appear to Netflix as if you’re located wherever the VPN server is. One would be tempted to conclude that, to access the American Netflix from outside the US, all you should need to do is connect to a VPN server located in the US, isn’t it? Well, not always.
Netflix Also Blocks VPN Connections
Netflix works very hard to protect its content licensing agreements, and it will often block connections coming from VPN servers. How does Netflix know connections are coming from VPN servers? Just like they know you’re not in the US. Netflix actively does some type of reverse-engineering to find the IP addresses of as many VPN servers as they could. And Netflix knows a lot of VPN server addresses.
You need to carefully pick a VPN provider whose server’s addresses are not known by Netflix. But even then, there’s no guarantee that Netflix won’t eventually learn their IP addresses and block them. Fortunately, the best providers use different techniques–such as using ever-changing virtual IP addresses–to try to prevent that from happening.
NordVPN — A VPN That Works With The American Netflix
NordVPN is one of the few VPN providers that is known to work with Netflix. Different from most other providers, NordVPN lets you select a server based on intended use such as torrenting, anti-DDoS, or video streaming. There are even options for using two VPN tunnels simultaneously for extra security or to use the Tor anonymizing network.
NordVPN offers traffic encryption using 256-bit AES and 2,048-bit DH keys over the OpenVPN protocol–a pretty standard offering among top-notch providers. The service features DNS leak protection which is on by default. This is a feature many providers don’t even have. A NordVPN subscription lets you use their service from six devices, one of the highest number of connections we’ve seen. You’ll be able to protect all your devices with just one account. you could also opt to protect your whole house, by installing the client on your Internet router, NordVPN offers four different models of preconfigured routers through a partnership with Flashrouters.
NordVPN is said to have over 2000 servers spread across more than 50 countries. Of course, the list of servers includes many in the US, an essential feature to access the American Netflix.
Like most other VPN providers, NordVPN offers an Internet kill switch that will automatically disconnect your network in the unlikely event that your VPN connection should go down unexpectedly. And also like many similar services, there is DNS and IP leak protection.
NordVPN Plans And Pricing
Unlike some VPN providers, NordVPN doesn’t have a free plan. You must purchase a paid subscription to use the service. However, it is our opinion that you get what you pay for. The supplier also has no tiered service offering. There’s only one kind of subscription service. That doesn’t mean there’s only one price though. The subscription price will vary depending on the duration of the subscription you purchase.
If you choose the one-month plan, you’ll be billed $11.95 every month. For a better deal, the yearly plan at $69 amounts to just $5.75 per month. And even better, the two-year plan at $79 brings the monthly cost down to just $3.29. Furthermore, all plans feature NordVPN’s 30-day money back guarantee so you don’t have to take unnecessary risks.
The NordVPN Clients
NordVPN offers user-friendly applications for all major operating systems. There are applications for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. But that’s not all, there are also browser extension clients for Chrome and Firefox. Those are interesting options as most of what requires a VPN is done from a browser anyways. And if you’re a Linux user, although NordVPN does not have a dedicated Linux client, the service uses standard protocols like OpenVPN. NordVPN has detailed instructions on how to set it up on most Linux distributions.
We haven’t tried all the available clients but we’ve put the Windows client to the test to see what it was all about. We’re assuming that other clients will provide a similar experience although some extra features might not be present on all clients.
One thing that is certain to strike users is the simplistic appearance of the NordVPN client app. When you start it, you’re presented with a map and there’s a big power button right above it.
You can zoom out and in on the map and click any country with a marker to connect to a server in that country. Alternately, you can also click the power switch at the top of the window to automatically connect to the best server.
If you’re more of a text-style person, you may click Countries where you’ll be able to pick from a list of available countries. For each country, clicking the menu at the far right further allows users to select a specific server within the chosen country.
Clicking the Settings from the top menu reveals a list of optional settings that can be enabled and disabled. There are, for example, setting to start the client app automatically when Windows starts or to automatically connect to the last use server as soon as the client starts. This is also where you can go to update the client to the latest version.
Among the options you can enable is the CyberSec option. This is a new feature of NordVPN that provides ads blocking as well as threat protection including malware and phishing. It is a welcome addition to an already very good client app.
Another feature that is quite useful it the App kill switch. It will close any application you specify should the VPN connection go down unexpectedly.
NordVPN is an excellent choice to unblock and access the American Netflix from anywhere in the world. Because Netflix is very active at detecting and blocking VPN servers, there could be situations where your NordVPN connection will be rejected by Netflix. When it happens, all is not lost. Your best bet is to disconnect the VPN and reconnect using a specific US server. You might need to try a few but it should eventually work. You can also contact the NordVPN support and ask them which server to use.