You’ve all seen the ads around the internet. “Using a VPN can unlock content on Netflix” by tricking the service into thinking you live somewhere you don’t. In recent years (and just over the past few days) that’s been made much harder to do. Here’s a 2021 guide to using VPNs with Netflix and why it’s almost certainly not worth your time.
We publish this post as Netflix introduces even more crackdowns on VPN users. Over the past few days, VPNs have been severely limited (we know because we use them for doing our jobs) with further restrictions being placed on users.
It’s been a cat and mouse game for years with Netflix and VPN services but in August 2021, Reddit and social media were full of users reporting that their VPNs were no longer working or more to the point, they can’t do what they intended to originally do with the VPN.
Help articles on VPN sites also reveal this is an ongoing and growing problem.
Thanks Swanko! Just to letting you know, when using a VPN to access Netflix, your region is hidden, so Netflix displays content that is available to all regions globally 🧐 Let's try turning your VPN off and try again! Let us know if you're able to see other titles after that ^CL
— Netflix CS (@Netflixhelps) August 3, 2021
This isn’t a new trend. Netflix has made its position clear on VPNs for years. It was back in January 2016 when David Fullagar announced that they were clamping down on VPNs and proxies but said that “technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it”.
This evolution now seems to be, according to the Netflix Help Article, not blocking you from watching content but rather severely restrict what content you see with only global Netflix Original titles typically displayed.
Why VPNs may not be necessary for Netflix in future years
Of course, the big reason people still use VPNs is to access content that is licensed to individual countries. Every region of Netflix is still very different with examples being Manifest only being on Netflix US & CA for instance.
Long term the need for VPNs for Netflix will slowly melt away (we’re talking 5-10 years here). Netflix’s general content strategy as you’re probably well aware is investing in Netflix Originals and most of those it releases globally. Eventually, we suspect that most Netflix libraries around the world will look pretty similar (like how Disney+ has broadly the same lineup in every region).
We don’t want to downplay the use of VPNs entirely, however. There are well-documented use-case scenarios of why and when you should use a VPN. Our point is simply that Netflix actively discourages and penalizes your account when trying to use a VPN to the point where it’s not worth the hassle.
Of course, you won’t hear this from most of the media. As we posted back in June 2019, many news outlets fail to mention any of the drawbacks to using VPNs on Netflix. The reason behind that is that VPNs often provide pretty hefty financial incentives to publishers in the form of commission on sales. We’re constantly approached by VPN providers but we took a stance that it’s not in the best interest of our readers to promote them.
So there you have it – do you still like using VPNs with Netflix? Do you have more luck than us with them? Let us know in the comments.