Our modern world has become reliant on instant gratification. From YouTube to social media, and now Netflix, anyone can get entertainment on demand from anywhere in the world. You don’t even need to have access to a TV anymore — you can install entertainment apps on your smartphone and watch your favorite movies and series from absolutely anywhere.
Netflix is by far the world’s most popular entertainment platform. Despite Disney+, Amazon Prime, and several other streaming services entering the fray, Netflix has held its own as the definitive king of streaming platforms worldwide. From Netflix originals to timeless classics, you can find thousands of your favorite movies on this streaming service, and it’s also home to some of the biggest blockbuster series in recent years such as Stranger Things, You, and much much more.
But, there’s a catch. You may have noticed some people raving about a movie on Twitter or a series scoring some eye-watering great reviews on Rotten Tomatoes thanks to Netflix. When you look for it on Netflix though, it might not be there. That’s because Netflix is not the same all over the world. You’ll need to use some of the best VPNs on the market if you want to scratch that itch. Not to worry though, we’re going to explain how it all works below!
Why Netflix Shows are Different Around the World
You may have noticed that some countries and regions around the world have different movies and series available on Netflix. Even if you type the specific Netflix title into Google you’ll be met with a disappointing error message when you try to access it. You’ll simply be told that the content is not available in your region — this is known as geo-blocking.
As frustrating as geo-blocking might be, it exists for a very good reason. Netflix needs to pay millions of dollars to secure licensing for specific content such as movies and TV shows. Unfortunately, they also need to follow some strict rules when they buy these licences — one of which is that they must stream the content in specific regions and block it from being accessed in other regions.
If you’re a frequent user of YouTube or a sports fan that often live streams events, you’ll be all too familiar with the concept of geo-blocking and the frustration that it causes you when you’re trying to find something to watch. But luckily there is a way that you can bypass these annoying digital fences.
Websites and streaming platforms use your IP address to pinpoint your physical location and based on this information, they will decide whether to block you from accessing the content on their site or not. So, in theory, if you could change this “IP address”, you could trick websites into thinking that your device is accessing them from elsewhere, and thus get them to grant you access to the content you want to watch.
What is a VPN?
Luckily there’s a tool that will allow you to change your IP address at the click of a button — no need for any technical knowledge or IT experience. It should be noted that this tool (a VPN), is primarily used as a cybersecurity tool, and here’s why.
The main function of a VPN is to encrypt your internet connection which will mask all of your online activity from everyone else. While your VPN is connected, no one can see what you are doing on your device — not even the government or your internet service provider. So, this is essentially the perfect tool for maximum privacy and security on your device.
But, what we’re here for is the ability to change your IP address and trick Netflix into letting you watch new movies and series no matter where you are in the world. VPNs are the only way that you can access a different country or region’s Netflix content, and here’s how it works.
When your VPN is activated, you have the option to connect to one of several different secure global servers in other countries and cities around the world. Once your VPN is connected to one of these servers, your real IP address will be hidden, and your device will adopt the IP address of the server that you have connected to.
For example, if you’re in South Africa, you can connect to a server in the United States. This will allow you to access the US version of Netflix (and any other website) which will unlock a whole host of new titles for you to watch on Netflix! But, there’s one more important thing to keep in mind!
Choosing the Right VPN
You can’t just use any VPN you come across on a Google search. There’s a very specific VPN that you need to get — especially if you want to use it to watch Netflix! But, before we get there, you need to know about the golden rule when it comes to choosing a VPN.
Always avoid free VPNs! It might be tempting to use a free VPN to save some change, but ultimately it’s not worth it, and you’ll ruin your Netflix streaming experience if you’re not using a premium VPN. Free VPNs come with a ton of baggage such as slower connection speeds, less security, pop-up ads, fewer global servers to choose from, and even daily data limits!
Now that you’ve somewhat narrowed down your search, you need to make sure that the VPN you’re using is compatible with Netflix. Netflix has started to clamp down on VPN vendors, forcing them to prevent their users from accessing Netflix while the VPN is active. As such, you need to carefully read several credible reviews on the VPN you want to install to make sure that it works with Netflix.
Secondly, you also need to consider some other elements because not all VPNs are created equally. Some VPNs have faster connection speeds and stability, which is better for streaming. Other VPNs will have better encryption or a wider selection of global servers to choose from.