What was once called “a night in” has changed largely over recent years and that’s mostly down to Netflix. It’s a strange thing, the power of this online movie and TV streaming service. For the small price of a monthly subscription, suddenly you can free your Friday night from the captivity of programmed television and put the power of choice, via netflix, right in your hand. Or for most, your mouse pad.
Anytime, (Almost) Anywhere
Netflix has changed the game when it comes to entertainment. In the original Netflix model, a person chose movies online, which will then be delivered to them by mail. However the business has grown to offer a massive variety of movies and TV shows that can be streamed online via a subscription website. Originally available to those with only a United States URL code, the service has expanded globally to be available around the world. In January 2016, Netflix became accessible to 130 more countries and also added Arabic, Korean, as well as, simplified and traditional Chinese to the 17 languages that it already offered. Now it is possible to watch Netflix anytime, anywhere. Well, almost anywhere.
As Netflix expands globally, the company must deal with territory rights to the TV shows and movies it carries. As a result, each country has a different line up of available TV shows and movies based on where the website is being accessed from. However by using a VPN or proxy to disguise the location, it is not hard to view media from the country of one’s choosing. This means that if an American wants to see Star Wars Episode 8 right now in the comfort of their home, all they must do is switch their VPN to Canada, to instantly gain access.
This geo-blocking business is tricky and tests the very concept of borders themselves. Gone are the old days when your location determined the shows, news, and other forms of media available to you. If the point of the Internet is to access anything from anywhere, the question arises of whether it should be possible to restrict internet content to be accessed from only one geographic area.
While David Fullagar, vice president of content delivery architecture, said that Netflix is pushing for the rights to make all their content available everywhere, they must continue to respect the licensing laws based on geographic location. This means a crackdown on proxies and VPNs is imminent.
One way that the company hopes to get around the issue is by creating their own Netflix-original content that they can control themselves. These movies and TV shows are star studded and of excellent quality. They have gained wild popularity and with the ease of spreading their own created content, Netflix is sure to continue to make more.
Problems with Content
Yet the issue of getting a wider variety of content can involve issues that are trickier than just licensing. Netflix has yet to enter China, but Chief Executive Reed Hastings says that they are working on building relationships that will hopefully move in that direction. Although Netflix would like all of its content to be made available everywhere, this will be a difficult task in countries like China that have strict laws about the media content they allow in. In a country with such a tight grip on media, it will take some serious sifting through content to figure out what will be allowed and what will be thrown out.
Though there are bugs to be worked out of the equation, the globalization of Netflix is an exciting development in the area of media and the Internet. How the company will handle territory rights and geo-blocking will be telling for the future of a world connected to each other by the Internet. But for now, one can be satisfied knowing that at the end of the day, more people around the world are discovering the sluggish joy that is Netflix.