Netflix restricts streaming from abroad

5 stunning stats about Netflix
5 stunning stats about Netflix

For years, Netflix viewers living abroad have been able to trick the streaming video service into letting them watch American shows. That trick no longer works.

Netflix (NFLX) has always restricted certain American content from being watched in foreign countries, due to licensing agreements with movie and television studios. Customers have been able to bypass those restrictions with a virtual private network or software that masks the location of your IP address. Those tools can make Netflix think you're in the United States, even if you're in a different country.

Now, it appears that Netflix is cracking down on those tactics. Netflix customers living abroad are reporting on social media that they can no longer view American shows on Netflix using a VPN.

The streaming service is available in 50 countries, but Netflix's content licenses vary from nation to nation. For instance, a show that is available on Netflix in England might not be available in the United States, and vice versa.

Related: CBS says Netflix hasn't had a hit since 2013

Movie studios have complained to Netflix about customers' ability to bypass restrictions and view content that isn't licensed in their region, according to news reports.

Netflix said that restrictions are nothing new.

"Our policies have not recently changed," said Netflix spokesman Marlee Moseley. "Virtually crossing borders to use Netflix is a violation of our terms of use because of content licensing restrictions, and we employ standard measures to prevent this kind of use."

But many people have noticed a change. Reddit users reported that the Netflix's newly updated Android app now no longer streams content if customers bypass Google's servers with a VPN.

The VPN blocking doesn't yet appear to impact every Netflix app. For example, the update doesn't yet appear to impact the iPhone app. But iPhone users on Reddit commented that it was likely only a matter of time before an update restricts their access overseas as well.

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