Virtual Private Networks allow you to access streaming libraries from different regions. Unsurprisingly, Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services aren’t too keen on VPN users unblocking all this extra content and have implemented countermeasures. However, how effective are they?
Well, the short answer is that in May 2022, using a VPN you can access Netflix relatively easily. Hulu puts up a bit more of a fight, while Amazon Prime Video is the toughest of the three major streaming platforms. Streaming is still very much possible with a VPN, but the VPN you use definitely plays a role. The luck of finding the right VPN server definitely matters too.
The history of Netflix and VPNs
Netflix hasn’t always been so concerned about VPNs. In the early years after people discovered that you could “hack” Netflix regions by using a VPN to connect to different countries, you did so unmolested.
Connecting to the United States and seeing its much—much—A better selection of TV shows was almost routine for a large number of users outside the country, while American viewers used a VPN to connect to European countries and their better selection of movies. For example, until the rise of Disney+, you could watch almost all Marvel movies on Netflix in Europe.
It was a good system for everyone: For a reasonable sum of about $200 a year (Netflix and a VPN all rolled into one, though it might be a little cheaper), you could pretty much watch whatever you wanted. It also worked for Netflix, because people from all over the world signed up knowing that they could, if they were willing to sign up for a VPN, also watch stuff from other countries.
If this all sounds like a golden age, that’s only because it was: Netflix had virtually no competition (Hulu was around, but still pretty small) and thus had a massive library of high-quality shows and movies. If he wanted to watch British shows, he used his VPN to access BBC iPlayer for free. For a fairly reasonable sum, you can watch all the entertainment you want.
jumping the shark
However, at some point, this ended. As with most “ages,” it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the change occurred. But, sometime in 2017 or 2018, it started getting harder and harder to access Netflix with a VPN. More and more frequently, you were encountering some form of the dreaded “it looks like you’re using an unlocker or proxy message”.
The exact reasons why Netflix began cracking down are unclear, but it likely has to do with pressure from publishers, who negotiate with different outlets to see who streams what and where. If you’re a TV station that just paid millions for a show, but then people use the combination of Netflix and VPN to watch it somewhere else, you’re not going to be too happy and complain to the publisher that sold you. rights.
What probably didn’t help either was the rise of other streaming services, which slowly began to nibble away at Netflix’s empire and, more importantly, its library. In an attempt to protect what was theirs, all streaming services started making it difficult for users to use a VPN.
Hulu, for example, doesn’t like anyone outside of the US to watch, while Amazon Prime Video has a very limited selection outside of the US. Equally protective is Disney+, which made VPN use almost impossible from the start, as people find out when trying to access the service’s pilot service in the Netherlands.
The situation in 2022
Throughout all of this, I was still able to access these services with a VPN, although it became much more unpredictable. Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, especially, were known as tough customers. It was a bit easier to access Netflix though, at least until 2021 when Netflix cracked down on VPN users that several observers, ourselves included, thought the days of watching Netflix with a VPN were over.
However, just a few months later, it appears that VPN providers have found ways to get around these blocks. Right now, in May 2022, you can crack Netflix’s VPN detection system using any of several VPNs. We got the best results with NordVPN and ExpressVPN, in that order, though even little Mullvad, which isn’t a service known for its Netflix cracking skills, worked just fine.
Although not all servers worked, we rarely had to reconnect to a different server more than once, which is much better than six months ago. While our findings are mostly anecdotal, our experience is that UK Netflix was a bit easier to access than the US library, and that NordVPN did a bit better than ExpressVPN, which is a reversal of how things were a few years ago.
We also tried Mullvad, which definitely struggled more than the two VPN giants, but still managed to communicate with UK and US Netflix, although we had to cycle through it. batch of servers before finding one that worked.
Hulu and Amazon Prime Video
However, we didn’t do as well with another streaming giant, Hulu. Mullvad and ExpressVPN failed to connect on any servers we tried, giving up after about five each time, while NordVPN did slightly better, allowing us to connect twice after about the same five attempts. However, unless you have a US-based payment method, you can’t sign up for the service, which makes the point a bit moot.
However, the last of the big three, Amazon Prime Video, seems almost uncrackable – none of our three VPNs were able to get through. A quick poll from the How-To Geek newsroom also showed that no one outside of the US would be able to break through Bezos’s fortress.
However, even Netflix is pretty good with a VPN. We suggest you take advantage of the good times – after all, you never know when Netflix will kick off another campaign.