Ever since the originally US Netflix went global, there has been a lot of hype about how, now that Netflix plans are available to Australians directly, we’ll be able to enjoy the same high-quality TV and big screen content from the comfort of our homes the way than Yanks can.
The truth is far from it: the Netflix America list contains blockbusters that simply cannot be present in the Australian library because of licensing reasons.
What Australians get is a truncated library that barely contains any of the best TV shows on Netflix US.
Why can’t you readily access it in Australia?
The reason why you can’t access US Netflix in Australia can be summed up in two words: regional licensing. You see, when Netflix first started a business in America, it acquired the rights to broadcast certain TV shows and movies exclusively in that region.
When they expanded into other regions, they couldn’t just start broadcasting this content right away – they had to acquire the regional licenses for these shows in each region separately.
The snag is that other competitors (both local and global) had snatched up many of those rights before Netflix. In other words, Netflix is, for the time being, unable to maintain parity between all their libraries because they don’t have global broadcasting rights for every title in their US library.
They are legally bound to ensure that people in each region are only given access to their respective library, to ensure that people who want to watch a show only get to watch it from the service provider that has the proper license. Otherwise, Netflix can get fined.
Long story short, you can’t directly access the US library from Australia for legal reasons – contact Netflix, they’ll tell you as much. To learn how to change Netflix to American region, read on:
How to get Netflix USA in Australia?
Netflix enforces the regional licensing by implementing a geo-blocking policy: whenever you attempt to access their servers, they will scan your devices IP address to find out your location.
They will then grant access to your device for the library which matches its location. If you’re in a location where Netflix doesn’t have a library – you’re out of luck.
However, whether you’re in a region without an official Netflix library, or you’re stuck in one with a poorly stocked one (case in point, Australia), you can still get around the geo-restriction by changing your device’s internet location to the United States, and thereby unblock US Netflix regardless of your location.
There are two ways of going about this:
A virtual private network works by creating a private ‘tunnel’ through the internet for routing your web traffic to a different region (in our case, the US) and then onto the rest of the world. Your device is on one end of the tunnel, whereas a server is located at the other end. To the rest of the internet, including Netflix’s own servers, your address is now the same as the server at the end of the tunnel.
Since, in our case, said server would be in the US, Netflix will detect our device as being in the US and thus grant us access to the US library – even though we’re really in Australia.
A VPN also encrypts your traffic, besides masking your location, so you get the added security of no one being able to spy on your online activities (a pretty big deal for Aussies when our government has passed laws to compel ISPs to log our online metadata, and our intelligence agency is part of the Five Eyes program).
A couple of reliable, affordable Netflix VPN Australia services for streaming restricted digital libraries from all over the world (including Netflix) are Express VPN and Nord VPN. Both have plenty of support available for setting them up on various platforms (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, game consoles, etc.), and both have extensive server lists to choose from inside the United States.
Not every device environment supports modern VPN clients (e.g. older consoles, Smart TVs, etc.). Also, note everyone can foot the roughly USD 10 / month bill of a VPN subscription. If either of these issues is relevant to you, you could go for the lighter, cheaper alternative that is getting an American Netflix DNS proxy subscription.
A Smart DNS proxy works by routing part of your devices inbound/outbound traffic (the one concerned with Netflix that is) via a US location. It does this through custom DNS values that you feed into your device’s internet settings.
Since no encryption or dedicated tunneling is involved, there is no tax on your connection speed (as in the case of VPNs), but this also leaves you exposed to third parties spying on your traffic (not that this is likely).
Unlocator is one inexpensive Smart DNS proxy service you could use – it is both reliable and easy to set up, with dedicated support pages to help you get it running on your device.
A cautionary note: Netflix had started coming down hard on several VPNs and Smart DNS services in an effort to step up its geo-restriction enforcement so there has been a rise in Netflix proxy errors (the competition started complaining when people in Australia subscribed to Netflix in large numbers because they could switch between libraries at will using these methods).
Before you pick a service, make certain that it supports Netflix US streaming (most service providers tend to make a big deal out of this, so you won’t have trouble finding out).