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Can Netflix Block VPNs?

By this point, you’ve likely seen tons of online articles and marketing copy telling you why you should use a Netflix VPN, and how to do it. So we won’t waste your time discussing those topics. Instead, we’ll try to answer one question we didn’t see discussed so much – can Netflix detect and block VPNs?

Basically, we’ll take a close look at whether or not all VPNs can unblock Netflix, and what measures Netflix takes to keep them from doing that.

So Is Netflix Able to Detect and Block VPNs?

Yes, Netflix can do that. It actually detects VPN IPs pretty easily. If the site catches you using a VPN, it will redirect you to the Netflix proxy error page.

That’s pretty much how Netflix blocks VPN IP addresses – every time it gets connection requests from one, it sends them to this page:

The only way to stop seeing that page is to disconnect from the VPN server. Of course, that means you’ll end up on your country’s content library instead.

How to Find a VPN That Can Actually Unblock Netflix

The only way VPN providers can avoid detection from Netflix is if they refresh their servers’ IP addresses very often. That mostly means they have to lease new ones from the data centers and ISPs they work with.

Unfortunately, not all VPNs can do that. It can get very expensive, and VPNs already have tons of costs to deal with (renting servers, server maintenance, bandwidth costs, staff salaries, paying taxes, etc.).

What does that mean for you, though? Do you need to subscribe to different VPNs, and test them for a month or so to see how they handle Netflix?

Sure, you could do that, but you don’t need to. You’re not a VPN review site, after all.

Instead, the easiest way to find a good Netflix VPN is to use StreamCatcher. It’s an online tool that tells you where all the films and TV shows on Netflix are available. What’s more, it recommends the top three VPNs on the market using ProPrivacy’s data (one of the biggest VPN review sites on the Internet). Those VPNs are regularly tested to make sure they can keep up with Netflix’s detection methods.

Will Netflix Ban You If You Use a VPN?

A lot of people seem to think so. Well, you can relax – we haven’t found one single instance of Netflix banning someone for using a VPN – even though it’s implied that using one would violate their ToS. Here’s what we’re talking about:

  • “You also agree not to: circumvent, remove, alter, deactivate, degrade or thwart any of the content protections in the Netflix service;”
  • “We may terminate or restrict your use of our service if you violate these Terms of Use or are engaged in illegal or fraudulent use of the service.”

Despite that, the only thing that will happen if you’re caught using a VPN is Netflix will redirect you to the proxy error page. That’s it.

How Does Netflix Detect VPN IPs?

Is there anything that gives them away?

Well, yes there is – the fact that multiple people are signing into their accounts using the same IP address. Netflix won’t assume there are 50 people living in your home. Instead, it will think you (along with the other users) are using a VPN.

But don’t think there’s a whole team of Netflix interns who check incoming IPs. The site likely uses automated scripts that cross-check IPs for VPN behavior.

Besides that, we also think that Netflix might be using geo-location services – like IP2Location and MaxMind. Those companies can offer Netflix access to databases that contain data center, proxy, and VPN IP addresses (which are updated regularly). Netflix can then use automated scripts to flag those IPs and redirect them to the proxy error page.

We can’t say for sure if Netflix does either of that, however. There’s no information on the web about how Netflix detects VPNs, so we’re just speculating. But these two methods make the most sense to us.

Why Does Netflix Have a Problem with VPNs?

Contrary to popular belief, Netflix doesn’t “hate” VPNs. But it also can’t ignore them, and freely allow their users to bypass their geo-blocks.

Why?

Because Netflix doesn’t own all the content you see on its platform. They actually license most of it from third parties. When they do that, they sign a licensing agreement which states which countries they’re allowed to stream said content in.

Why Doesn’t Netflix Get Global Rights Then?

They can do that for some titles, but not all of them. Here’s why:

  • The licensing rights for some countries aren’t for sale.
  • The copyright holders already sold the rights for other countries to different streaming sites and TV networks.
  • Netflix’s data mining says that buying the rights for some regions wouldn’t be worth it. That mostly means people in those countries aren’t interested in certain shows and movies. So licensing content in those locations would be a pointless investment since it wouldn’t generate a positive ROI.

Because of that, Netflix has to use geo-blocks to respect the licensing agreements they signed. And they need to take steps to block VPNs so it doesn’t look like they’re overlooking them (which might breach said agreements).

The Bottom Line

Yes, VPNs can unblock Netflix, but Netflix can also detect and block them. Only a few elite providers can bypass Netflix’s detection algorithms on a regular basis. Our tests show that ExpressVPN and NordVPN are among them.

But if you know other VPNs that can successfully do that, please let us know in the comments. Also, if you know how to bypass the Netflix proxy error without switching VPN providers, please share those tips with us.

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