15 January 2016
Consumer advocacy group CHOICE is calling on Australian internet users to share their knowledge about how to circumvent geo-blocks, after the popular streaming service Netflix announced plans to switch off access to its international content libraries for Australian consumers.
"Many Australian Netflix subscribers will be shocked to find that they'll be downgraded from accessing US Netflix to the much smaller Australian library, losing out on thousands of titles," said CHOICE Director of Campaigns and Communications, Matt Levey.
"Up until now, Australians could shop internationally for content using a simple unblocking service and their Australian account to access Netflix international catalogues."
"The popularity of Netflix in Australia has a lot to do with its progressive approach to content that allowed consumers to access more of the latest release programs from around the world in a timely manner," Mr Levey says.
Before officially launching in Australia, Netflix built an estimated Australian subscriber base of 340,000 on the strength of its international content offering.
By switching off access to some of its most popular international content, Netflix was effectively baiting consumers before switching them into a less valuable offering.
"Rather than putting barriers up, it's time to recognise the internet is global. Regional copyright deals are as outdated as video cassettes. Ultimately, Australians should be able to pay for international services directly rather than be locked into sub-standard local versions."
CHOICE is asking anyone who finds a work-around to continue accessing Netflix international services in Australia to provide their tips at www.choice.com.au/geoblocking.
"As our Prime Minister has noted, it is not illegal for Australians to circumvent geo-blocks. People are going out of their way, often paying for a VPN service and a Netflix account, to legitimately watch the content they love," Mr Levey says.
"As online services like virtual private networks (VPNs) and domain name system (DNS) proxy tools continue to evolve, CHOICE will be tracking these changes to help Australians keep watching the content they love – even as Netflix tries to stop users from accessing the benefits of international competition."
 November 2014, CHOICE research found that approximately 340,000 Australian households accessed overseas-based subscription service Netflix. The survey was conducted with 1046 participants from the general population from 31 October to 7 November 2014 by iView for CHOICE. Final data was weighted to ensure it is representative of the Australian population as per ABS Census 2011.
 A selection of shows available in the Netflix US library but not in Australia:
The Flash – Season 1
Nurse Jackie – 7 seasons
NCIS – 12 seasons
Person of Interest – 4 seasons
Bob's Burgers – 4 seasons
New Girl – 4 seasons
Grey's Anatomy – 11 seasons
West Wing – 7 seasons
Friends –10 seasons
iZombie – Season 1
Fringe – 5 seasons
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D – 2 seasons