Netflix subscribers unhappy that it will block access to content in other countries

The Netflix Inc. video streaming website.
The Netflix Inc. video streaming website.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Netflix users in Singapore are unhappy over the American content streaming company's announcement that it is moving to block proxy access here to its service in other countries. This means they will no longer be able to view content available only on Netflix platforms overseas.

The popular American streaming service wrote on its company blog on Thursday (Jan 14) that users will, "in coming weeks", have their proxy services detected and blocked.

Mr David Fullagar, vice-president of content delivery architecture at Netflix, wrote: "Some members use proxies or 'unblockers' to access titles available outside their territory. To address this, we employ the same or similar measures other firms do.

"This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it. That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are."

The announcement follows the same path that another American streaming service, Hulu, enforced two years ago when it also cut access to proxy services.

This means that Singaporeans will soon be able to access only Netflix's Singapore site, which was launched last week as part of the company's global roll-out in 130 new countries.

But it poses a big problem for Singaporean content users who feel that Singapore's Netflix offerings are too limited.

 
 

Public relations junior executive Claire Chen, 21, who has been accessing Netflix's US content for the past three years using a VPN (virtual private connection), said that "there is no point" in subscribing to the Singapore service if it does not contain her favourite shows.

"I watch Criminal Minds and Downton Abbey, both of which are not available on the Singapore service. So why would I bother paying for the Singapore service?"

Other popular titles, such as Tina Fey's comedy 30 Rock and British drama Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch, are not available on the Singapore service.

Netflix Singapore cannot offer the entire library of content from the US because the rights for certain titles have been sold to other partners in the region. In Singapore, for example, Sherlock is aired on BBC Entertainment.

In the same announcement Netflix posted online, it wrote: "We look forward to offering all of our content everywhere and to consumers being able to enjoy all of Netflix without using a proxy.

"That's the goal we will keep pushing towards."

Mr Fung Yin Foong, 35, was "shocked" at the news announcement, especially because it came directly from Netflix.

Said the magazine sub-editor, who has been subscribing to Netflix's US service via VPN for the past year and a half: "This is the first time I'm seeing something so official on this issue from Netflix. Until I lose my access to Netflix US completely, I guess I will just have to take shallower breaths."