My Netflix frustrations have come to a boiling point that I now seriously want to ditch my subscription. The frustration is with travelling around the world and keeping my subscription going and watching content on Netflix. We live in a world that loves to compartmentalise and segregate for marketing and media right purposes. For streaming giants like Netflix, but also many others streaming companies be it in entertainment or sports, love to create different products for different markets.
Netflix in the Netherlands has different programs and movies compared to Netflix in Argentina. This model works fine for 98% of the population that is static. But what if you are a digital nomad and you want to try to access your account whilst abroad. In the past this seemed to work fine and users could login and watch almost anywhere in the world. This also had a side effect where some subscribers would open accounts in countries like Turkey where a standard subscription is $3.08 (57.99 TL) vs US$15.50 in the USA. This is undercutting Netflix's revenue stream and I am not even talking about password sharing which has even a greater impact on Netflix revenues.
This does not matter when Netflix shares were trading at maximum value valuing the company at $314 billion, but when the shares took a dive and subscription growth started stalling things now start to matter.
Digital Nomads are forced to use VPNs
With it becoming increasingly difficult to login into my account whilst travelling around the globe there are solutions to this problem. Welcome to the world of VPNs (Virtual Private Network). A VPN consist of a software client on a computer, smartphone or Android box that will connect to a server in another country via an encrypted connection. I am in Thailand at the moment and with a VPN I can create a connection to the United Kingdom to let Netflix or any other streamer believe that I am there.
Problem solved for the moment and everyone is happy. Digital nomads are used to travel with a VPN anyway as there are now so many geo restricted services and websites that are now not restricted anymore. The fact that VPNs also use encryption makes accessing your bank account or other confidential data that more secure, especially when you use public WiFi networks.
VPN use & password sharing crackdown
But the crackdown on VPN use has not stopped for Netflix and other streamers like HBO Max. I opened my HBO max subscription whilst staying in Spain when it had a very lucrative 50% lifetime discount. However it has now almost become impossible to use it even if I set my VPN to use Spain. It now recognises that I am using a VPN and will not allow me to access it any longer. It is a similar story for Netflix where I now increasingly get the message that I am using a VPN and will block me from watching certain content. This seems to be more a case now with Android boxes and Amazon Fire sticks than with content watched on Laptop or mobile for the moment. However I am sure these other devices will eventually get caught.
A quick search in some Reddit groups show me that certain VPN providers are better at not getting detected but it is game of cat and mouse.
The password sharing is a bigger issue for Netflix and I can see why Netflix is keen on cracking down on this and seems the VPN use is being taken on my the same team.
Frustrations of unable to watch content
My frustrations are now so big that I am cancelling my HBO Max subscription, I will miss the Succession show. I am close to doing the same with Netflix where it not that I have topped up with gift cards for the next 4 months. Maybe it is a good thing and it will allow me to submerge more in local activities and take my eyes of the screen. I have also noticed I spend more time on YouTube than on any of the streaming giants anyway.
I will now have to resort to taking monthly subscriptions when I am long enough in a certain country so that it makes sense to subscribe. If I am lucky to not be blocked again from opening an account due to not having a local credit card. On top of that every time it is a new account and Netflix will start from zero again with recommendations and what to watch and what you have already seen. As you can see my frustrations are real.
Solution – create a premium global service
Where there is a problem there is a solution. Start catering to Digital Nomads by creating a product for them. Countries and even local hill top villages are creating programs to attract the growing digital nomad community to help their economies. The key here is to make things less complicated for digital nomads and they will come. The same can be said for streaming companies. Please create a subscription service with the following:
- One account, to keep track of what we have seen and what to recommend that works anywhere.
- Flexible pricing, so when I travel in Turkey I get Turkish pricing and when I travel in USA or UK I get their local pricing.
- Create packages that cater to users language. For instance when I am based in Turkey I may want to watch Italian specific Netflix content that is not available to Turkish subscribers.
- Tie this in to good behavior, If you frequently notice the use of VPNs to get cheaper pricing you can ban the privilege of a global account.