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Netflix Working To Provide Similar Content Across The Globe

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Netflix has big plans to create a global version of its streaming service where subscribers from different parts of the world would be able to watch same content irrespective of their locations. The company attracted a lot of negative publicity and criticism recently because of its decision to ban unblocker services but in reality, it wants to make VPN piracy a thing of the past. It is certainly an ambitious plan which, if successful, would shake the online streaming industry like never before and would also forever alter the way global consumers consume content online.

Speaking to Gizmodo Australia a couple of months after the company enforced the VPN ban, Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings stated that creating a global version of the company’s popular streaming service would allow it to tackle the menace of illegal downloading and piracy head-on. He also admitted that although the VPN piracy was also detrimental to the company’s business, its impact was relatively small especially when compared to full-blown piracy happening via torrenting and sharing of files via file-sharing services.

Stressing that VPN pirates are different from torrent pirates and illegal downloaders, Hastings said that those relying on VPN services to access Netflix are paying customers and are using unblocker services simply because their favorite shows are not available in the country of their residence. He added that VPN pirates want to pay for the content but are unable to do so because of GEO-IP restrictions. Hastings said that the best way to combat this issue was to go global and offer same content to all subscribers so that they don’t have any incentive for using unblocker services. He also stated that tackling full-blown piracy was much more difficult since people downloading files illegally often have no intention of paying for the content.

Although Netflix’s intentions are noble, it is not yet clear how the company would manage to secure international deals for the content it acquires. As of now, content providers and TV channels from different parts of the world participate in bidding wars to secure licensing deals for TV shows. For Hastings’ vision to become a reality, the company would need to work on securing international licensing deals; something which is not happening at the moment. Additionally, content creators and studios would need to sell licensing rights differently; something which is not likely to happen anytime soon.

Netflix’s ambitions may soon become a reality in Europe where the EU has devised a strategy to create a single digital market for all of its member states. The proposed plan, if implemented, would mandate the member countries to follow the same set of rules as regards to copyright, data protection, allocation of radio spectrum and other telecom services. This also means that Netflix (as well as other streaming service providers) would be able to secure broadcasting rights for the entire EU with just one licensing agreement. However, this solution is unlikely to work in the global scenario since each country has its own set of telecom rules and is governed by a different government. So while we must laud Netflix to dream about creating a truly global streaming service, the road ahead is full of obstacles and roadblocks.

October 20, 2016

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