VPNs are highly versatile apps that both secure your data online and help you get around geo-blocks. But will a free solution work just as well as a subscription-based one? Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. You’ll need a true-blue VPN to unblock The Office and all your other favorites on Netflix. Here’s why.
Why Netflix Blocks Shows in Your Area
While people direct their hate towards Netflix for not making their content available everywhere, most of the blame actually falls on the companies licensing content to Netflix. Studios like NBCUniversal may get more fruitful deals from licensing The Office and the rest of their catalog to other services. Say, local TV channels or streaming sites trying to break into the market. Or, they could just keep the money to themselves by putting the show on their own streaming service (“Peacock” in this case).
Thankfully, The Office is still available on Netflix in countries like the UK and Ireland. That is subject to change at any time, though – so check out the link at the start of the article for the latest info.
How and Why Netflix Blocks VPNs
What is Netflix doing about the millions of VPN users? Do they try to cut better deals so people don’t have to resort to third-party software to watch the shows they’re paying for? No – instead, they block VPN traffic.
How? Basically, they hire aggregating services (like MaxMind) to round up VPN IP ranges for blacklisting purposes. Why? Well, they’re contractually obligated to impose geo-restrictions based on what media companies tell them to. If NBCUniversal wants The Office to be exclusive to Peacock in the US, then Netflix needs to do what they can to stop people from sidestepping those restrictions.
Read also: What Are The Pros And Cons Of A VPN?
Why a Free VPN Can’t Unblock The Office
Considering how easy it is to start using a free VPN, it’s unsurprising that Netflix has an easy time blocking them from their service. Mind you, even subscription-based VPNs are affected by the VPN ban. The difference is that premium providers can actually afford to refresh their IPs for paying subscribers. That’s how they stay one step ahead of Netflix’s blacklisting efforts.
On the other hand, most free VPNs are lucky to cover operational costs by selling user data, injecting ads into your browser, and other aggressive monetizing practices to keep things “free.” Worst case scenario, your device might be infected with malware, or the provider could leak your sensitive data online.
Even if you come across a safe, free provider that Netflix hasn’t blocked yet, don’t expect the smoothest streaming experience around. Here are several reasons why:
- Free VPNs throttle your bandwidth to level the playing field for free users. Not only does streaming video become a chore, but casual browsing is rather slow as well.
- Many also impose data caps (usually between 500 MB to 10 GB). Barely enough for a season of The Office in the most generous of cases.
- Finally, they have small server networks that may not include the countries where your favorite shows are available.
The Office might be one of the best shows ever made, but it’s certainly not worth the hassle or dangers of using a free VPN. Especially if you don’t vet the provider beforehand.