We subscribe to Netflix in the UK from our Apple TV but let’s face it, the selection available is pretty lousy – just flicking through the InstantWatcher database (a library of everything available on the US library) is enough to really make you consider cancelling your UK Netflix sub.
Enter Unblock Us to save the day!
Being a bit of a geek I was pretty sure there’d be a way around the Netflix ‘geo-fence’ and sure enough Unblock Us did the job. It’s a $5 monthly service that lets you pretend to be pretty much anywhere in the world and receive that country’s Netflix library. So if you’re in the UK and want the US library, no problem. And, of course, vice versa 🙂
Make the most of your Netflix sub!
I’d seen a lot of references on some forums I frequent (mainly Eurogamer and AV Forums) to two services in particular: Unblock Us and Blockless. Both cost the same, about $5 a month, work on any device you use Netflix on, and setup really boils down to plugging some numbers into the DNS field on your device and restarting. If you want to switch library to another country you just change the country you want to appear to be in on the Unblock Us or Blockless homepage. It’s very easy and we found that in practice we loaded up the US library and rarely changed that setting.
But hey – you’ve got the power to watch any Netflix library at all, so make sure to check out what’s available elsewhere as you might be surprised! For example, at the time of writing neither the US nor UK have The Dark Knight Rises, but the Swedish and Norwegian subscribers have had it all month. (If you’re reading this in 2015 you might not think that’s so amazing, but in August 2013 it’s pretty cool).
So which one to go for? Well it’s up to you. Both have a 7-day free trial so give them a go and see what floats your boat. The two services were essentially identical for our needs, so I’m afraid in the end I made my mind up based on which homepage I preferred the look of, and Unblock Us won.
How to search the world’s Netflix libraries
So once you’ve got access to those libraries how do you find out what’s available and where it is? I use a really cool website called MoreFlicks. You tell it what movie or TV show you’re looking for and it searches the global libraries of Netflix, Vudu, iTunes, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Fox and Crackle and tells you where, if anywhere, it’s available. You can restrict searches to particular services or search by genre or other keyword if you don’t have a particular title in mind.
Once you’ve found the movie or show you want, check which Netflix library it’s in, switch to that region using the unblocker service, restart Netflix and you’re done.
How does it work?
You don’t really need to know this stuff to use one of these sites, but anyway: websites like Netflix determine where you are using the DNS address each device is given when it connects. It’s a series of numbers in the form xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx that work as a kind of location ID. If you’re in the UK, your connection passes through a UK-based DNS server and you get the UK Netflix library.
Unblock US and Blockless provide you with a new DNS address you can enter in your router or connecting device that will make your device appear to be anywhere in the world that you want to be by setting that location on their site whenever you want. And it’s useful for much more than just Netflix – most media-related websites that restrict access based on your apparent location should be available, including BBC iPlayer, Vudu, Hulu and MLB.
It is, as they say, pretty cool!