Sony is apparently unhappy with Netflix’s efforts to stop users from circumventing geo-located content.
Or rather, a lack of effort. The Geofiltering results sharing policy report, obtained by Forbes in the wake of the extensive Sony Pictures hack, allegedly paints Netflix as a negligent partner.
Netflix is available in 15 countries worldwide and the content it supplies varies from region to region, based on the rights afforded to it by deals with the likes of 20th Century Fox, Disney – and Sony Pictures.
The report says: “We don’t want NFLX [Netflix] to have any excuse to not consider the results. They were fully informed of the study and tacitly agreed with the methodology.”
Netflix’s North American content library is considerably bigger than the UK counterpart. US customers get titles like Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues before they’ll land on this side of the pond.
In theory, Netflix’s terms and conditions forbid customers from doing this: “You may instantly watch a movie or TV show through the Netflix service only in geographic locations where we offer our service and have licensed such movie or TV show.
“The content that may be available to watch will vary by geographic location. Netflix will use technologies to verify your geographic location.”
In practice, services like Hola, CyberGhost, TorGuard and many others make it easy for subscribers in the UK and elsewhere to fool Netflix into thinking they’re actually accessing the service from the US, or elsewhere.
Earlier this year, Stephen Langsford, CEO of Australian streaming service Quickflix blasted rivals Netflix for giving such customers an easy ride.
In September, Langsford issued an open letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, saying: “You’re currently enjoying a free ride in Australia ignoring unauthorised ‘back door’ access to your US service and thereby taking revenue away from local services which are investing to service the local market and endeavouring to provide choice and competition to consumers.”
As Netflix plans an Australian launch next year, domestic streaming services are understandably angry, having paid millions for the rights to films and TV shows, only for a quarter of Aussies to simply use VPNs to access Netflix instead.
Now TV owners Sky can’t be too happy either – one of the trump cards of Now TV is that it can get Hollywood blockbusters months before they’re available on Netflix in the UK.
Easy access to such content via US Netflix with something like Hola invalidates this trump card somewhat.
AHEDA, the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association, has called on Netflix to up its geo-filtering game. Netflix has yet to respond to AHEDA and it’s not yet known how, if or even when it’s going to pull the shutters down on the fingers of its errant customers.