Why Do Streaming Platforms Have Different Content in Each Country?
Streaming services are playing an increasing role in the way we find and watch new films and TV shows. But, what if I told you that Netflix and the other major streaming platforms had even more content that you just weren’t seeing?
The way that content distribution and licensing works is a little strange. Since there aren’t international copyright laws, media creators can maximize their profits by selling the rights to shows to each individual country. When this happens, the rights for those shows are owned by unique entities in each of those countries — which fractures the content market globally.
So, here’s how it works.
Let’s say that NBC has created the hottest new show on TV. And, let’s say that a platform is thinking about adding that show to its library in multiple countries. Since the streaming services have to purchase the rights to that show for each country that they’re going to enter, they’ll do market research first. So, if the audience in the country is too small, they can’t justify the price of the licensing for that country.
Remember, each country has their own unique tastes and portfolio of preferences. This means that platforms have to balance risk and rewards when they think about adding new shows to libraries. And, this leads to a massive fracture in content across countries.
There are also competitors to think about. Amazon may want to purchase the rights for this hot new TV show in India but another content streamer has already purchased the rights. In this case, Amazon still wouldn’t be able to stream the content in India.
So, what ends up happening is that services own the rights for thousands of TV shows and movies, but they only own those rights in certain countries. Thus, each country has its own Amazon Prime, its own Netflix and so on.
What Do The Other Libraries Look Like?
You may be thinking — “so what?”
After all, the US should have the best selection of shows… right? It depends.
First, I’ll start off by saying this: Japan has the largest movie library on Netflix, and the UK has the largest TV library – that’s right, not the US. But surely we have the best content?
Here’s a list of shows and movies that are available on Netflix in other countries but not the US.
• Brooklyn Nine-Nine
• Rick and Morty
• It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
• The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
• Steven Universe
• How I Met Your Mother
• Baby Driver
• The Great Gatsby
• and thousands more!
At this point, you’re probably wondering how in the world you get access to all of those killer TV shows and movies. In fact, you may be looking at your current selections a little differently. Don’t get me wrong; the US has incredible content libraries, but once you’ve owned a streaming service for a few years and exhausted your selection, having all of that fresh content can be extremely enticing.
Let’s take a look at how you can get around those pesky region-locks.
How to Access Any Library With A VPN
So, how do the streaming services know which library to offer you? Well, they check your IP to discover which country you’re located in. So, to bypass the region-locks, you have to fool them into thinking your IP address is coming from the country whose library you want to access. And you can do just that with a Virtual Private Network (or VPN).
A VPN encrypts all of your internet traffic and funnels it into the VPN’s server. So, let’s say that you want to watch Netflix in the UK. You would find a VPN that offers UK servers, select that server, and the VPN will route all of your traffic to that server. So, when Netflix does its check, it will think you’re from the UK.
The great thing about this method is that you can rapidly gain access to ALL of the main Netflix libraries. VPNs like Surfshark, who offer servers across the globe, can give you streamlined access to tons of content. You just have to choose a new server each time and reconnect.
Here’s how to use a VPN.
1. Find: Remember, you want to select a VPN with a ton of servers globally. And, you want to make sure that your VPN is safe, reliable, and doesn’t have a history of handing over records to government agencies. This isn’t as important if you’re only using it for Netflix. But, if you’re using it to get past censorship blocks in your country, you definitely don’t want a VPN that’s going to hand over your records freely.
2. Pay: Well, yeah… you have to pay. Again, this is another reason I like Surfshark; it lets you pay with cryptocurrency for extra anonymity. Plus it’s only $2.99 a month — which is really cheap.
3. Connect: Depending on which VPN you chose, you’ll either have a client that you download or a PDF with instructions on connecting to the VPN. Typically, it’s a client. Once you log into the client, you’ll simply select your server and press connect. Remember, you want a server located in the country that you’re attempting to watch content in. So, connect to an Indian server if you’re going to check out Indian Netflix. Not sure which one to choose? Unogs lets you search through all of Netflix’s libraries.
4. Enjoy: Watch those TV shows and movies!
There are thousands of TV shows and movies out there that you can’t currently access. If you’re like me, you want it all. By leveraging a VPN, you can tap into all of those libraries and find all of the shows and movies you’ve been missing out on. So, don’t play the streaming service game where you spend hours searching for the perfect piece of content; VPN your way to content paradise.
Cover image: James Bareham/Polygon