Netflix CEO on Blocking Proxy Access: Nothing Much Will Change

Last week, Netflix explained it had plans to block proxy access to out-of-country content customers were accessing, such as through VPN or DNS services.

It’s no secret many Canadians subscribe to VPN services to access U.S. Netflix and more (which Bell accused Canadians of stealing), so this announcement had some worried about whether they would be able to continue to do so.

During the Netflix Q4 2015 earnings call (which we just watched in its entirety), CEO Reed Hastings was asked about the company’s upcoming plans to block proxy access and respect content rights.

From the casual nature of his reply, Hastings appears to suggest not much will change—almost hinting the announcement was made to please content providers.

Hastings answered “I don’t think we’ll see any impact…we’ve always enforced proxy blocking with a blacklist, now we’ve got an expanded and enhanced blacklist…I don’t think we’re going to see a huge change.”

Re/code’s Peter Kafka asked if the company does not expect to see a change—why do it at all? To placate content providers?

The Netflix CEO replied “You can call it placating, you can call it catering to their desires, which–they have legitimate desires. If we license content in Canada, you know, it’s not fair for our customers to get it if we’ve only paid for it in Canada. We’re trying to pay for it all by shifting to global licenses.”

Hastings continued to say “it’s perfectly reasonable what content owners want, and we know there’ll be some people affected by it today, which is why we wanted to be open about it. But it’s really a continuation of what we’ve always done with now with this enhanced blacklist and other techniques.”

That answer makes it seem like not much will change—at all. Netflix benefits when customers watch their shows and get hooked, regardless of where they’re doing it from. As long as you’re a paying member, you are a friend of Netflix.

If you were worried about your VPN service not being able to access Netflix outside of Canada, I’m beginning to think you don’t have much to worry about. What are your thoughts on what Hastings had to say?