A couple of days ago I wanted to watch a movie on Netflix. Like I do on a regular basis. And I like the service – mostly. This time I was shown an error message. Something with a proxy service.
After a few tries it worked again, but the error messages kept popping up every know and then. Now it seems I cannot access Netflix through VPNs at all. In other words, Netflix is trying to shut down people that access its service through VPNs and/or proxies.
The company has long threatened to fight this. They probably have tolerated it long enough to gain market share. Now that they have expended into so many countries / markets, they are acting on it. I guess. And they probably have to. After all, they mostly do not own the rights to the movies.
Some claim it is only for popular movies, but I have not found an exception. I am not actually pissed that they are doing it. After all, Netflix is the service provider.
However, I am disappointed, as I was hoping Netflix would revolutionize the TV/film market. Ok, revolutionize is a tad strong, but make it a bit better – at least.
Localization instead of globalization
I am traveling quite a bit and have lived in various countries over the last years. Hence, for me, local restrictions do not make sense. I mean, I hear about movies and series from my friends in Asia or the US. Or from my friends in other European countries.
Plus, I am mostly watching movies in their original language – as long as I have some understanding of it. Hence, I do not need a special library as well.
Hence, for me, Netflix is going backwards. I was hoping we would reach a stage where the digital world would allow us to become more connected, closer together. You know, globalization or something like that. But I guess Netflix is following the current politics worldwide: striving for nationalism.
Security, protection, & privacy
To be honest, the main reason I was using VPNs and proxies in the first place, was not to get access to different movies. It was to cloak my data – at least a bit.
I work in data and analytics and I know that a service needs data to best model the experience. However, I would still like the choice to use a VPN or sorts, if I fancy so.
If Netflix continues to even block my VPNs in the same country that I am in, I will – most likely – look for something else.
Using market power in the wrong direction
Netflix is probably the name in the (movie) streaming industry. I would argue. So why are they clamping down on its users? After all, the users pay. Good question, right?
Apparently, with all its market power, the service decides to support the studios or distributors. It is true that they are the ones producing or distributing the films, but – coming back to my first point – in a globalized world, ludicrous restrictions are simply obsolete. The same goes for the senseless rights management.
If Netflix continues down that path, they will probably drive some customers (back) into illegally downloading movies.
I am not saying that I will. I like to pay for the things I consume. I mean, it’s the work of somebody. Though, others might not share my mindset.
As most countries, communities, or parents can probably agree, tightening restrictions – more often than not – leads to the exact opposite. A pointless cat-and-mouse game.
Different experience for different users
Lastly, the different movie libraries that Netflix offers for each country, vary tremendously. I have started watching Netflix in the US and continued to do so in Europe. The Danish or the Canadian selection is simply better than the German one, for instance. Hence, Netflix is creating different user experiences for its users – with the same or even higher prices.
Again, with its international audience, this does not make sense at all. The company claims it is to satisfy the local needs, but I guess all the people / users I talk to are simply not representative. Something about sample size, I guess.