There is no denying to the fact that the VPN is highly used to unblock streaming services and getting access to restricted content.
Services like Netflix, HULU, Amazon, BBC iPlayer, and various others impose severe geo-restrictions on their content. For instance, people residing outside the US don’t have access to HULU. Why? Well, HULU is strictly a US-service. The same is true for the BBC iPlayer which only works for UK residents.
Geo-restriction is one thing, but limiting a show or a movie to a certain region is totally another. While the former is often due to the unavailability of service in a region, like in the case of HULU, the latter is a case of flawed licensing deals. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video limit various shows to only the United States due to their licensing deals.
Fortunately, you can bypass all of these restrictions by using a quality VPN streaming service. Major VPN providers like Surfshark, NordVPN and ExpressVPN can unblock all of these sites. These services implement their proprietary VPN features for streaming to give their users the ability to seamlessly connect to their favorite streaming sites.
Why Is It Important for a VPN to Unblock Streaming Services?
Well, let’s crunch some data to give you a better idea about the use of VPNs for streaming:
- 26% of the whole internet uses a VPN. Let me put this figure into perspective. 57% of the world’s population is on the internet. That is some 4.33 Billion people. And 26% of these 4.33 Billion souls own and use a VPN. 26% of 4.33 Billion is a mind-boggling 1.11 Billion active VPN users!
- Out of these 1.11 Billion VPN users, 50% use their VPNs for entertainment purposes. This means that 500 million people use a VPN only to enjoy the internet. And let me blow your mind once more, the majority of these 500 Million people use their VPN to access Netflix each month. Roughly 319 million people use VPN for streaming i.e. accessing geo-restricted content on Netflix. This was also confirmed by our finding of the major VPN services who saw increased sales during COVID-19.
These figures are astonishing. With each passing year, the number of people looking for ways to stream blocked content is increasing. These people look at all the available options like free proxies, and free DNS addresses like 126.96.36.199. But by and large, the majority of these users stick to trusting their favorite VPN service to get the job done.
Therefore, it is crucial for VPN providers to keep their products up-to-date to ensure that they can unblock popular streaming services.
Which VPN Services Have Taken Strict Measures to Unblock Streaming Services?
VPN providers are in a constant struggle against geo-restricted streaming services. It’s a back and forth battle where each side is trying to stay one step ahead of the other. The pattern of this on-going battle is this:
- VPN providers allocate a new IP block to a server in a country like the US.
- Now, users connect to that VPN server using their VPN and are assigned a new IP address. This way, the user’s actual location is masked and behold; they are watching Netflix US while sitting in South Africa!
- But Netflix soon catches up to them and gets the server blocked.
This is exactly where good VPN services step up their game and figure out a way to break the limitations set by streaming services. These services use in-genuine methods and with a team of industry-leading experts, develop proprietary solutions.
Different VPN providers use different methods to unblock sites. They then package these methods as VPN features used to unblock streaming sites. For instance, let’s take a look at what NordVPN does:
NordVPN uses a mix of a remote VPN server with a Smart DNS. NordVPN calls this mix SmartPlay. It unblocks streaming services by DNS rerouting and uses an additional pool of IP. This adds an extra layer of security and allows access to certain websites. So, essentially you get the best of both worlds.
When we take a look at ExpressVPN, it does almost the same thing but doesn’t call it a new feature. The folks behind ExpressVPN, like other major VPNs, constantly acquire and add new IP blocks to their servers. This is the simplest way of dodging the blocking algorithms of streaming sites. Streaming sites can’t block an IP they haven’t seen before. So, in this situation whenever a user uses an IP from this new block, he gets access to the service.
Similarly, Surfshark has taken stringent measures to ensure they continually unblock streaming services. Like NordVPN, Surfshark also uses Smart DNS which they call it Trust DNS+. This helps in both fast streaming and Whitelisting of an IP address.
Similarly, CyberGhost also unblocks streaming sites by changing your IP address with one that works. They also use the same technique of buying up new IP blocks to stay one step ahead of the streaming services. CyberGhost have proved to be a notable service for streaming in our latest review.
As I’ve said earlier, there is a constant tussle between geo-restricted sites like Hulu, Amazon Prime, and VPN providers. No perfect solution exists that unblocks all the streaming sites all the time.
What Measures Have Streaming Services Taken in Blocking VPN Services?
If you were a streaming service and had invested billions in your infrastructure, of course, you wouldn’t want people to go against your business plan. If you allowed that, you would be saying goodbye to millions of dollars in potential revenue. This is the reason why streaming services take pretty strict measures in blocking VPNs.
Let’s take Netflix as an example as it has the most strict policy against the use of VPNs to hide IP addresses. Netflix maintains and adds to a list of IP addresses that users use to connect to its service. So, essentially every time you connect to Netflix using a VPN, the streaming service notes down your IP address and runs a scan on it against its own database of IP addresses.
By the time this scan is over, two things would have happened:
- Netflix infers you aren’t using a VPN service if your IP address doesn’t match the IP addresses they have flagged.
- Netflix blocks you because your IP address matches the list of address they know belong to a VPN service.
This technique has proven pretty successful because no VPN service can unblock Netflix all the time. Eventually, every VPN provider runs out of new IP blocks to allocate. Consequently, to keep providing their users with features to unblock streaming, VPN providers must obtain and allocate new IP blocks.
As you can see, this is a constant struggle. No side wins here. Fortunately, VPN providers have some of the best engineering talents in the industry. And for the most part, every major provider is doing a good job unblocking streaming sites.
So, for what it’s worth, VPN users are enjoying and will continue to enjoy streaming content regardless of their geographical presence.