By Sarah Townsend
Streaming service launched in the Gulf in January to mixed reviews from customers
Netflix, which recently launched in the UAE, has started a crackdown on customers using proxy software to watch content not available in their country.
The online streaming service implemented a global rollout in January, including in parts of the Middle East such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
But the company warned at the time it would clamp down on widespread use of proxies, virtual private networks (VPNs) and other technologies for unblocking content not yet licensed in a particular territory.
In a blog post coinciding with the global launch, David Fullagar, vice-president of content delivery architecture at Netflix, wrote: “If all of our content were globally available, there wouldn’t be a reason for members to use proxies or “unblockers” to fool our systems into thinking they’re in a different country than they’re actually in.
“To address this, we employ the same or similar measures other firms do. This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it. That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are.”
In recent weeks Netflix customers using proxies in the UAE have reported their access being blocked, with a message that reads: “You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again.”
This week, Netflix’s vice-president for communications, Joris Evers said “ultimately, the goal is to provide a service around the world that is more similar than not.
“Until we can offer all our programming globally, we have to deal with the reality of territorial licensing. We’re moving as quickly as we can."
However, Netflix had not responded to requests for comment by the time this article was published.
Meanwhile, the UAE version of Netflix – and the subsequent proxy ban – has received mixed reviews from customers.
“Bye bye, Netflix,” one user tweeted last month after finding that his account had been blocked.
And Another said: “Cancelled my #netflixUae account. So much TV, nothing to watch. :(“
I subscribed to Netflix but have been disappointed because I started watching 'Gotham' only to realise that only one season has been made available. Then I moved on the 'Blacklist', again realising that only one season was made available. This is obviously extremely frustrating and no way for Netflix to build a loyal user base. I can still understand that some series may not be available in UAE but making a series available & then restricting it only 1 season is beyond comprehension. Hope Netfix is listening would act accordingly.
Tried to watch new House of Cards series through UAE Netflix, but it's not available as OSN has the rights.
It takes quite literally 20 seconds to find another means of streaming the new episodes.
Why would anybody keep paying their subs when they can't even watch a 'Netflix Original' at the same time as everybody else?
The vast, vast majority of Netflix is old films. Take away the good stuff and UAE Netflix is dead on arrival.
There is no reason at all to get Netflix in UAE. Barely any of the good stuff is available. Most of the titles are boring. When all of the advertisements for Netflix UAE include master of none and chef's table, you know there is not enough good content. I want to be able to watch friends, parks and recs, and the office. Unfortunately you get a limited number of good titles that you will end up repeating.