Sophie Ryan is online editor for the Business Herald

Netflix freeze nets more Kiwis

Netflix's promised crackdown on VPN users has stretched to New Zealand users trying to access the American catalogue. Photo / Bloomberg
Netflix's promised crackdown on VPN users has stretched to New Zealand users trying to access the American catalogue. Photo / Bloomberg

The crackdown on Kiwis accessing US Netflix through virtual private networks has raised issues for people wanting to access TV shows in their native language.

Bev Nicol moved home to New Zealand a year ago after living in Sweden with his family.

Nicol continued to pay a subscription to Swedish Netflix for greater access to shows in the Swedish language, particularly children's shows for his two daughters.

"Accessing TV in your own language really can help keep your language skills up."

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After months of cat-and-mouse with Netflix he recently relented and signed up for the New Zealand Netflix.

"Our youngest daughter no longer speaks Swedish... I cannot blame Netflix for this, but I do think that outside of the US content issue, there is a broader need - that many people immigrate to NZ and like to keep the familiarity of their home countries," Nicol said.

He said he wasn't trying to cheat the system and should have been able to keep the subscription.

"We were paying for the service after all - payments they were more than happy to receive without sending us an email to address why we were accessing the content from abroad."

In January, Netflix expanded its service to 130 countries, but vowed to crackdown on VPNs that were allowing people to subscribe to a version of the site that was outside of their country of residence.

Dozens of people who were accessing US Netflix through a VPN contacted the Business Herald to say in the last fortnight their access has been shut down.

A woman who had been watching American Netflix for two years was cut off on Saturday.

[The call taker] told me that they had a deal with the NZ company and had been told that now was the time to enforce it. Still furious.
Elspeth Kean-Mayes

Elspeth Kean-Mayes rang Netflix US customer service and found no way around losing her subscription to the US library through a virtual private network (VPN) service.

"My subscription was paid through iTunes and I was using an Apple TV box, my American address was provided by Unblock-us," Kean-Mayes said.

"I pointed out that my subscription to America predates NZ Netflix and it was not illegal then or now for that matter and that I objected to being disconnected.

"[The call taker] told me that they had a deal with the NZ company and had been told that now was the time to enforce it. Still furious," she said.

Another US Netflix user Max said he cancelled his subscription to Netflix after being locked out through VPNs. He now streams his favourite TV shows off sites that don't pay for the content.

"They're losing business out of it, I know many people that have done the same.

"Netflix were always anti VPNs in their terms and conditions but never enforced it, they should've stayed that way, they're missing out on revenue now."

- NZ Herald

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