Digital Transformation

Netflix head wants to make the streaming giant’s content global to undo geographical licensing barriers

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By John McCarthy | Media editor

March 31, 2015 | 3 min read

The head of Netflix has announced he plans to make the company’s content library global to combat piracy – which he partly blames on perpetrators' lack of access to quality US shows.

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings has opened up on Netflix subscribers who use VPNs to bluff their geographic location to access content not licensed in their region, during an interview with Gizmodo Australia.

Netflix has over 30 million customers in regions it has yet to officially launch in, with an estimated 20 million coming from China. These subscribers use VPNs and proxy servers to get around the restrictions.

On this phenomenon, Hastings said: “The VPN thing is a small little asterisk compared to piracy. Piracy is really the problem around the world.

“The VPN scenario is someone who wants to pay and can’t quite pay. The basic solution is for Netflix to get global and have its content be the same all around the world so there’s no incentive to [use a VPN]. Then we can work on the more important part which is piracy.

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“The key thing about piracy is that some fraction of it is because [users] couldn’t get the content. That part we can fix.”

Hastings admitted that making quality content available to the global audience should be a priority if studios want to cut down on piracy. Notably, streaming rival HBO is set to address this issue by broadcasting Game of Thrones season five in 170 countries simultaneously in April – cutting out international fans’ need to wait for the content.

He concluded: “Some part of piracy however is because they just don’t want to pay. That’s a harder part. As an industry, we need to fix global content.”

This comes after the firm denied blocking of its customers who use VPN and proxy services to access its content as part of a movie studio-enforced scheme to better regulate the international intellectual rights of its TV shows and movies.

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