Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Netflix Went Worldwide WAY Too Soon

Once upon a time, if you put something out there on the internet, the whole world could see it. Then, one day, someone decided that entertainment companies can put something out there, but only their native country can see it. The rest of the world was like: "Wow, what a jackass!"

That last bit also happens to be the reaction from Canadians who aren't satisfied with just watching House of Cards and Bojack Horseman. That last bit is the reaction Canadians had to Netflix's border-hopping crack down. Hungry for the full catalog of titles available in the U.S? Too bad. If you try to use a VPN or unblocking service to cross the border, Netflix will deport your ass faster than you can say Bordertown.

When your streaming service is now available worldwide, the first thing you want to do is make sure your content isn't available worldwide too. That's the message Netflix is sending to Canadians. It's true that Netflix does want to have a worldwide-viewable catalog, hence the shrinking movie lineup (which could also be chalked up to them spending more money on original programming), but actions speak louder than words, and Netflix's actions as of late have said otherwise.

Since Canadians can't rely on unblockers, now they're prepared to just pirate everything Netflix offers the United States that they can't get up north. After all, it's not stealing when you take something for free that you aren't allowed to pay money for in the first place. That's the biggest problem with geographically-restricted subscription services: people who were willing to pay money for something are now "stealing" that very something because the owners, apparently, don't want their money.

Now flip it in reverse! Netflix Canada has given us new episodes of Scandal before the Americans can stream them, exclusive series like From Dusk 'ill Dawn & Shadowhunters, plus exclusive streaming rights to the new Star Wars movie. Surely someone in another part of the world is looking at us with envy. As awesome as these bonuses are (and they are FREAKING SWEET!), it would be even better if we ALL were able to enjoy them. If we could all enjoy From Dusk 'till Dawn and Star Wars, without having to use an unblocker, it would truly feel like Netflix is available worldwide. If we still lived in a world where "if you put something out there on the internet, the whole world could see it", that's would be the reality.

Instead, everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too and, once again, the customer has the short end of the stick. If Netflix truly wants to have a worldwide catalog of shows, then they need to stop making these region-specific deals. The same goes to all businesses: the only way to slow down piracy is to make your goods accessible to the customer. The pirates are winning because they provide a better service. When your business avoids anti-consumer practices, like geo-blocking, piracy becomes an afterthought.

Then we'll all live happily ever after.

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