Streaming without borders - How you can enjoy your Netflix account worldwide


You're abroad. After a long day you stretch out on your hotel bed and settle in to watch your favourite Netflix series. Beer to the left, popcorn to the right. That is, until you realise that your viewing package hasn't travelled with you. No subtitles and a whole other line-up. Irritating? Yes, the European Commission think so too.

Whoa, wait a minute. Contrary to what the title seems to suggest, I am not going to give you tips to view your Dutch Netflix account via a back door. I am also not telling you how to view the substantial Netflix line-up from America, (while you are at home in The Netherlands). I am the wrong person to go to for those sort of tips. However, I will mention this briefly.

Licenses per country

The line-up available in your Netflix account depends on the country. It's linked to the country you are living in. As a Dutchman in the Netherlands you need to be satisfied with a third of the content than an American in America. For some series you can't even see all of the seasons.

The differences are down to royalties. Royalties are in the hands of content providers, such as Sony Pictures Television. These royalties provide a licence for broadcasters, and platforms for online streaming, like Netflix and Amazon. The licences are granted and given per country. This clears up the differences in available content between the USA and The Netherlands.

As a user of Netflix that difference seems a little strange. Why does the country you live in determine what you get to watch? And stranger still, why does the right to see your TV series get removed once you cross a border? Compare this to a camera you bought in The Netherlands, it doesn't lose any functions because you took it with you to France.

Illegal viewing

Illegal viewing practices get around the issue. Via a secure VPN connection (Virtual Private Network) it is possible to log in as if you are in the Netherlands, even when you aren't. By this method it is possible to view the Dutch content. Or, even more lucrative, using a VPN connection as if you are in America, providing you with the larger American content while you are in The Netherlands.

Also, using a proxy connection, running via a separate and central computer, you can access the same way as using a VPN connection. But as I understand Netflix now have blocks for these shortcuts. A variety of VPNs are now on the blacklist of Netflix. Users need to find other VPNs in order to make illegal connections to Netflix, until Netflix trace those, and so forth.

European Approval

The solution is at hand and coming from an unexpected direction. The European Commission (who are usually for rules and regulations) want to remove geo-blocking of content. From next year you should be able to view your content anywhere in the European Union.

If the European Parliament vote in agreement with the European Commission, then you will be able to view your package contents without the issue of borders. However, only in Europe. The Sonys and Universals of this world shouldn't really find any issue with this, it will just increase popularity with streaming services. The content providers will benefit from it.

From Next Year

There is nothing preventing streaming services from removing geo-blocking. The competition between streaming services is so fierce, they need to come up with a user-friendly solution to allow you to view your familiar series abroad. Technically speaking, it isn't complicated to set up a personal account in any country. If Spotify can do it, then why can't Netflix?

Maybe it's best to leave your laptop at home during the winter holidays. However, next summer you will be watching your familiar series, in your hotel room, by the swimming pool or on the balcony of your apartment. Just remember to book your holiday with a good Wi-Fi connection.