We all experienced this at least once. You heard people talking about a cool new series on Netflix. You look it up, but don’t find it.
What’s going on? Are you going crazy, or is Netflix glitching out?
It’s neither of those. This actually comes as a surprise to many people, but Netflix content isn’t the same worldwide. Some countries have more titles than others, while some shows and movies are only available in a few regions.
Don’t believe us? Here’s how you can check yourself:
- StreamCatcher – This is an online tool from ProPrivacy that tells you where Netflix titles are available. For example, if you look up Taxi Driver, you’ll see only the US library has it.
- Statista – Research from 2019 shows that the US library has the most Netflix titles (5,932), closely followed by the UK library (5,702) and the Canadian library (5,692).
- Surfshark – This VPN provider did extensive research to find out which Netflix libraries have the most and least content. It backs up Statista’s data since it shows that the US, UK, and Canadian libraries are at the top with nearly 6,000 titles.
So yeah, Netflix isn’t the same worldwide – neither when it comes to content or pricing. For instance, the Swiss library has around 4,300 titles and higher pricing (from $13 to $24 per month).
If you’d like to know why this happens, and how to get around Netflix’s geo-restrictions, stick around. We’ll tell you everything you need to know in this quick guide.
Why Is Netflix Content Different Depending on the Country You’re in?
Because Netflix uses geo-blocking to control what shows and movies you can watch. Here’s how that works:
- When you visit Netflix, your device sends connection requests to the site. Those requests contain your IP address.
- Netflix receives the requests, and checks the data in them. When the site sees your IP address, it automatically knows what country you are from.
- Once Netflix knows your geo-location, it will redirect you to your country’s regional library.
Why Does Netflix Use Geo-Blocks?
It’s the only way they can respect the licensing agreements they signed with copyright holders. Don’t forget – Netflix doesn’t own most of the content on its site. It licenses it instead.
Unfortunately, they often can’t get global rights, so they have to geo-block the content in countries they couldn’t get rights for. If they wouldn’t do that, they might get sued for breaching the contracts.
Why Doesn’t Netflix Get Global Licensing Rights?
There are quite a lot of things that can get in the way:
- No availability – The copyright holders simply aren’t selling the rights for certain countries.
- Multiple owners – The copyright holders already sold the rights for some countries to other streaming sites or TV networks. For example, Netflix has the licensing rights for Taxi Driver in the US, but they probably couldn’t get them for the UK because Amazon Prime Video owns them for that region.
- Analytics – Netflix uses data mining to determine regional tastes. If they see that people in your country aren’t interested in a title, they won’t buy licensing rights for your region. It’s a bit unfair, but please remember that Netflix spends a lot of money on licensing content. They can’t afford to make big investments without being able to guarantee a decent ROI.
Does Netflix Geo-Block Its Original Programming?
Usually, no. Netflix owns the copyright, so they are free to stream Netflix Originals everywhere the service is available.
Unfortunately, there is a “but.” Netflix actually has to geo-block a few of its own shows – like Orange Is the New Black or Lilyhammer.
Because they don’t own the licensing rights anymore. They sold them when the shows launched. Netflix wasn’t available worldwide back then, so that was the smartest move at the time. But because of that, they now have to keep geo-blocking that content until they can buy back the rights.
Sadly, that probably won’t happen any time soon since the current right holders can ask for absurd prices. Or Netflix’s data might show that people in those countries are no longer interested in their original content.
Can You Bypass Netflix’s Geo-Blocks?
Yes, there’s actually a very easy way to do that – just use a VPN. It’s an online tool that hides your IP address (so stops Netflix from seeing your geo-location) and encrypts your traffic (prevents bandwidth throttling).
It does that by routing your traffic through a VPN server that sits between you and Netflix. Basically, the site will think your connection requests are coming from the VPN. So, it will only see the VPN’s IP (its geo-location).
As long as you use a VPN server in a country where the content you want to unblock is available, you’ll be all set. For example, to unblock US-only titles, you’ll need a US VPN server.
Do All VPNs Unblock Netflix?
Not exactly. Netflix can actually detect and blacklist VPN IP addresses. When that happens, you’ll end up on the Netflix proxy error page.
To avoid detection, VPNs need to regularly refresh their servers’ IP addresses. That’s not very cheap, though, so not all providers are able to do it on a regular basis. Because of that, their users end up seeing the proxy error page very often.
How do you know which VPNs do that, though?
It’s easy – we’ll tell you! Our research and tests show that ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN, and NordVPN are able to unblock any Netflix library without any issues.
The Bottom Line
No, Netflix content isn’t the same worldwide. Some titles are only available in specific countries – like Dexter and Shameless (U.S.) in the US, and Doctor Who and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in the UK.
Luckily, you can unblock any show or movie you want on Netflix by using a VPN. If you know other unblocking methods that work, please let us know in the comments.