It begins: Some Canadians are experiencing difficulties using proxy services with Netflix

Patrick O'Rourke

January 22, 2016 1:06pm

Update 01/28/16: A reader reached out to us to let us know that his Unblock-Us account is no longer working on his Android device. It’s unclear how many Canadians are affected at this time, though, Unblock-Us posted this message (seen below) on their Facebook page. An increasing number of Twitter users have also reached out to the company regarding region-switching issues.

“We are aware that a small percentage of our customers are getting errors when trying to access different Netflix regions. If you do happen to get an error, we kindly ask that you contact our support team via email so they can collect some information from you. Of the customers that have emailed our support so far, we have been able to provide solutions for them so that their service can continue normally.”

Thanks, Spencer!

unblockus
In a move that’s likely a precursor to what Canadian region-switching Netflix subscribers will soon experience, Netflix has begun cracking down on VPN and proxy users in Australia.

uFlix, a company that provides a service that allows users to change their IP address and DNS settings, circumventing geographical-related content restrictions, says some of its users are unable to access content from other regions of the world.

The following warning is reportedly showing up in some Australian Netflix user’s accounts: “You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy, please turn off any of these services and try again.”

uFlix says that the blocking seems to be affecting a small segment of subscribers at the moment, but that the platform expects those numbers to increase in the near future.

Netflix officially expanded to the Australian market in March, but reports from as far back as 2014 indicate as many as 200,000 Australians were already accessing the platform via VPN/DNS services.

It’s unclear if Netflix is starting to block proxy devices in other regions of the world, particularly Canada. Unblock-Us, one of the most popular Canadian proxy providers, recently stated the following in a Facebook post: “We are aware of the announcement and should our service be affected at any time, we will make adjustments.”

A quick look at the proxy service’s Facebook page and official Twitter account indicates a small number of users are experiencing difficulties with Unblock-Us, although it’s unclear if the issues these users are experiencing are related to Netflix’s recent commitment to stop the use of proxy services.

If you’re a Canadian Netflix user, let us know in the comments section if you’ve run into difficulties related to region-switching.

According to the company’s recently released quarterly earnings, Netflix now has more than 75 million subscribers. The streaming platform also recently expanded into 130 new regions including Russia, India and South Korea.

Related reading: It’s official: Netflix says it plans to crack down on license-infringing proxy users

SourceuFlix
  • Mike Scott

    Only a temp fix.. Just like after torrentsd there was magnet links.. you have proxy service something else will be right behind it.

  • Me Ted

    Pretty sure VPN’s will still get past those checks, won’t they?

    • Dylan Neild

      A standard VPN will, yes.

      The issue is services like UnblockUS – these rely on proxying the requests for file playlists / management via an in-country server but offloading the file requests for actual video data to OpenConnect as usual.

      If OpenConnect was modified to apply content locks based on incoming IP it’d break UnblockUS completely (at least the way it’s presently implemented). UnblockUS would have to then FULLY proxy everything; not a service they can provide for $4.99 a month given the amount of bits (both IN and OUT) they’d need to be handling.

    • danbob333

      also the video quality would probably endup being lower because of added latency and lower bandwidth

    • ikr

      >UnblockUS would have to then FULLY proxy everything; not a service they can provide for $4.99 a month given the amount of bits (both IN and OUT) they’d need to be handling.

      Are you kidding? VPN services cost less than $4.99 per month.

    • They likely will, but for some people, a few DNS/IP blocks will be all it takes to stop them.

  • RjPiston

    I don’t understand why they (netflix and the studios) just give what the people want! We don’t need fake borders on the internet.

    • Raj Singh

      I’m sure Netflix would love to provide that content to its customers but contractually they’re prohibited from distributing the content that other outfits have paid millions to distribute in Canada (exclusively or in partnership with).

    • RjPiston

      Yea i get that, still doesn’t make sense. From a content creator’s standpoint i’d want to ensure my content is viewed by as many people as possible. These region restrictions seem to counter that.

    • HatInTheRing

      Not necessarily. If you were a greedy, capitalistic studio you’d want to eek every penny. You’d set up road blocks and create boarders and threaten to sue. The industry makes me sick. Netflix, I believe, is trying to offer the best programming they can. They’ve been trying to have one Netflix for the globe but it’s just too hard.

    • RjPiston

      Yea I don’t really blame Netflix really. If they pushed back the studios would just go to another service that will comply with their demands. I wish the studios would just understand that making it easier for people to watch their content is the major thing that prevents piracy.

    • craig0r

      It’s like you don’t understand why businesses exist…

    • HatInTheRing

      I thought making and keeping costumers was the primary goal of business. Therefor having a dwindling value proposition, tarnishing your brand and losing customers to piracy would be bad things. Please enlighten me though since you’re obviously a business expert.

      The issue is that alternatives exist and media today is very easy to obtain. If you don’t make it easy and price it fairly, today’s savvy “customers” will the path of least resistance. That’s just the facts. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. I’m saying welcome the economics of media in 2016.

    • craig0r

      Content providers want dollars, not views. So whatever method earns the most money is the bottom line, literally. This doesn’t make them greedy or evil. Plain and simple, it’s the reason businesses exist.

    • Raj Singh

      Ultimately, it’s a business. It may not make sense but it makes cents. It’s all about money, not accessibility, which is why people have the urge to torrent.

    • But then the content creator’s wouldn’t be able to charge a licensing fee for every region. Netflix has stated in the past that its eventual goal is to move towards international licensing, but that it’s going to be a very slow process. Getting movie and television studios on board with that model is nearly impossible right now.

    • Dylan Neild

      Same reason there is no HBO Now in Canada: local companies have signed exclusivity agreements (in the case of HBO it’s Bell/BCE who has those rights). Don’t blame Netflix – blame the legacy content companies doing old school deals.

    • HelloCDN

      Don’t shoot the messenger 😉 There is a reason why Netflix is investing heavily in its own content – they can easily provide it everywhere, US, Canada, Russia, China etc. Now, as for the others… I mean, if I buy a DVD in Canada, pay the dollars, yet then go to Europe/Asia and try to watch in on a locally bought DVD player, I won’t be able to! How much sense does that make? Yet it’s happening. Netflix is a rebel child for them and they are quite annoyed with it and will do everything to prevent the growth of the platform.

  • Robby

    People pirate or stop pirating depending on the value proposition. Just look at music – People didn’t feel an album was worth $15-20 so they pirated it. Now we have streaming subscription services and millions of people would rather pay monthly than pirate. Movies/TV seems to be going in the opposite direction. Artificial content restrictions infuriate people. While many people were willing to pay for Netflix AND an additional unblocking service (to circumvent the ridiculous content restrictions), these new measures are making accessing content at a reasonable price more difficult than people will care to deal with. This will in turn push people back towards piracy.

    • RjPiston

      This is just going to make people want to start/continue pirating

    • HatInTheRing

      Well said. We live in a era where people demand reasonable value and actually have the means to work around the systems in place to get that value.

    • HelloCDN

      Can’t blame Netflix for this. HBO is in the same boat in Canada – why do you think we don’t (and probably never will) have HBO Now? Because the beloved Bell has exclusivity to HBO content distribution here and they will rather have it rot than give it people with reasonable price and convenience.

  • mizkitty

    I think they’re only blocking the IP’s of known “un-blocking” services…mostly as a “goodwill” gesture to rights holders.

    Netflix’s unofficial stance seems to be more “nudge-nudge…wink-wink”.

    If it comes down to it…just setup your own private VPN on a VPS for $10 a month. Get your 14 year-old nephew to show you how…

  • blueadept1

    SPAAARRRTTTAAAAAAAA

  • Jason

    so lets start that timer on how long it takes to get around all this

  • MBTechno

    Well, TouchVPN is already blocked…

  • OffTOPIC

    Good luck Netflix………you will not block anyone that has any knowledge of the internet and the workings. I can appear to be in any country at any time with a simple click of a mouse with a progy I wrote last year. I challenge Netflix or anyone else in their vain attempts to deny me or anyone using my stuff. It simply can’t happen. HaXoRs~

  • James Bruke

    I will be using UnoTelly and Netflix for as long as I can change my Netflix region. Otherwise, I will be cancelling my Netflix subscription.

  • Unwound

    no issues so far with unblock-us

  • Hollie Cheney

    Ha ha! Hotspot Shield Free VPN Proxy STILL WORKS! Choke on that, corporate hogs!