Netflix stopped being niche a while back. Now it’s a ‘hoover’ – something you do, that describes a whole cast of products from other countries. But in our niche, horror, there’s a sharp difference in the range of movies you can access on Netflix or Hulu or any other streaming service, depending where you’re located.
The easiest way to find out the truth of this is to be an American and travel abroad. Go to Spain, England, or India and you’ll find more local fare – or course; some of it will be great – of course; and you’ll also lose access to hundreds of great horror movies you’re used to having on call whenever you want.
That’s especially obvious if you hit your favorite subgenres – some of which almost entirely disappear when you switch locations.
Why do different places get different streaming experiences?
The reason for this is that Netflix (I’m just saying Netflix from now on, replace with your favorite streaming service) gives you a different experience, based on where you are in the world.
One reason is that different audiences want to see different things. Guess who wants to see the latest telenovellas? Not Indians, mostly. Who wants to see a bunch of Bhangra movies? Not Germans, as a rule. So Netflix tries to show you what it thinks you’ll want to see, in the language you’re likely to want to watch it. (Another good reason for overcoming georestrictions when you’re on the move.)
But another reason is copyright. Netflix makes a bunch of its own content, some of which is pretty slick (Rebecca, anyone?) and a lot of which is at least cabe-quality. But it leases rights for much more from standard businesses that insist on georestrictions for licensing deals. Basically the same stuff that made sure you always had to wait a couple years for movies to come out on TV after they stopped running in theaters.
This still happens – the release schedule difference between the USA and the UK, for instance, is 134 days apart on average. (Believe it or not, it’s a major cause of piracy.) Netflix might want to mess with this – but if they want to keep licensing older, mainstream or major studio horror movies, they can’t.
How georestriction works
So how does Netflix know where you are?
Normally, it uses your IP address. Your IP address shows where you are on the internet, which corresponds to where you are in real life, so you can geolocate people with it fairly easily – it’s a key form of ‘internet ID.’
(Wanna see how easy it is to find someone by IP? Go here and see for yourself.)
Now, here’s the good bit: If you want to see the Netflix (or Hulu, or whatever, we did this already) that you want to see (telenovellas? Don’t let me stop you), you can.
Let’s beat georestriction together. Hike!
It’s time to take a leaf out of sports fans’ books.
In many ways, horror fans and sports fans have a lot in common.
Yeah, OK, not really, but we do have one thing in common. Georestricted content is a bitch for both of us. Especially in the USA where sporting contests are georestricted by state in some instances.You could be 50 miles from home and have to wait three days to watch the game. (Me, I can wait forever, but that’s beside the point.)
So sports fans have started using VPNs in increasing numbers to combat these insane rules.
And we can too.
VPNs disguise your physical location, meaning you can seem to be anywhere you want. If you’re an AMerican on holiday in the Netherlands and you want to watch something that isn’t CSI: Asleep Next to the Canal, you can just pick an American server and plug right back into American Horror Story (Or iZombie, no-one’s judging you).
You’ll find a lot of VPNs don’t get past the increasingly sophisticated proxy blockers that sites like Netflix use now. So I’d find some of the remaining Netflix-friendly VPNs like Vyper, Nord or Torguard and grab a free trial, and see if they work for you. Expect to pay something like $3 to $10 a month for something that will let you watch anything you want.