WHEN NETFLIX LAUNCHED its streaming service in the US, it was a phenomenon. A massive amount of content for a very reasonable price was on offer, but it was restricted only to US users. In those early days, a lot of Australians used VPNs to fool the geoblocks to get access to the service.
Even after a local version of Netflix was launched, people still used VPNs to access the US and other international versions of Netflix, which had substantially larger content libraries than Netflix Australia. There’s a whole mess of stuff available on the US service that you just can’t get here.
But in January 2016, Netflix decided to put a stop to all that. It started blocking the IP addresses of VPN providers, and when you tried to log on, you would get the dreaded Netflix Proxy Error, telling you that you couldn’t access Netflix while using a proxy.
Thus began the game of cat and mouse that we currently live with. Some VPN providers don’t play, but a number still do offer servers that will work with Netflix and possibly Hulu (which instituted similar blocks) — at least for a time. This month, we thought we’d highlight some of those services that still do work with Netflix — at least as of January 2018.
IS IT WORTH IT?
The answer to that question is yes, though less-so than it was. Netflix US still has a substantially larger content library than Australia, though the margin has shrunk quite a bit as Netflix Australia has grown and the US library of Netflix has significantly downsized as other competitors came online. JustWatch.com lists Netflix US as having 4,684 titles available as of January; Netflix Australia has 3,792 titles.
That noted, it’s not just about the numbers. It’s not simply the case that Netflix US has the same content as Australia plus 900-odd titles. There are a lot of movies and TV shows that we have that they don’t and vice-versa, thanks to the weirdness of international licensing. In reality, the number of extra titles you can get on Netflix US is well over 1,000.
We should also note that it used to be the case that you could further exploit this international licensing mix by logging on to other countries as well. Netflix UK might have titles that neither the US or Australia have, and Netflix Denmark might have more titles still. That’s no longer really an option. Some VPN providers might support a few countries other than the US, but in most cases, even where a VPN provider foils Netflix’s blocks, it’s only for the US.
Let’s start with the three services that we think support Netflix best right now.
NordVPN launched with a commitment to providing Netflix access and, so far, it has kept that promise, even extending Netflix support to a few countries other than the US. It just recently stopped listing ‘streaming servers’ on its website, however, so you will need to contact support to get the best Netflix server. We’ve had no problems streaming in HD on NordVPN as well, and it works with the mobile Netflix app.
ExpressVPN may be expensive, but it’s very fast and continues to provide Netflix access in the US. You will need to contact support to get the current servers, but we found the support staff responsive and informed, so it was no drama getting current Netflix servers. It also smoothly supported HD as well as the mobile app.
The surprise in our list, CyberGhost actually has a dedicated button inside the client app to connect to the Netflix-capable server — so you don’t even need to contact support. Just click on the Unblock Streaming button to see it. And it worked great when we tested, even in HD.
OTHERS THAT CURRENTLY WORK
There are others as well that you can try. Here’s a quick list of some of the providers that worked as of January (although as always, things can change):
A provider that proudly boasts of its ability to un-geoblock content, Private VPN is an affordable option.
SaferVPN has added a ‘US Streaming’ server to its server list in-app. That means Netflix, and as with CyberGhost, you don’t even need to ask support.
You’ll have to ask support, but at the time of writing, SlickVPN continued to support Netflix and is a cheap option.
TorGuard actually has several options for unblocking Netflix. It does have servers that support it, but an even more reliable option is its dedicated IP service, which gives you a private IP address. Because you’re the only one using that IP, Netflix is unlikely to block it.
VyprVPN has been off and on with Netflix, but it’s currently on and works quickly enough to support smooth streaming.
There are some other services that currently work, but we’ve found them a little shaky. These include:
Hide My Ass! (www.hidemyass.com) recently added a Netflix streaming server, but it was almost unusably slow when we tested it, indicating not enough bandwidth has been allocated.
LiquidVPN (www.liquidvpn.com) worked well when we tested (though not with the Netflix mobile app), but we’ve seen reports that the service is up and down. Keep your refund option in mind.
Much like LiquidVPN, StrongVPN (strongvpn.com) seems a little shaky on Netflix, with servers that are off and on and with sometimes problematic performance.
YOU NEED TO ASK!
Even for VPN services that can access Netflix US, it won’t be the case that you can just connect to any server in the US and expect it to just work. You need to know the specific servers that will work, and for that, you often need to contact support. Just send a message to the VPN’s support service and ask which server you should connect to. They’ll usually get back to you fairly quickly.
REMEMBER THE MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE
When it comes to Netflix support, things change. Some providers like Buffered and Getflix that used to support Netflix no longer do so, for example. Some providers only occasionally work, or have spotty performance. Thankfully, most providers offer a rebate if you cancel the service within a certain time period. If you connect to one of the VPN providers and it doesn’t work like you’d hoped, then remember to make use of it.