Why Streaming Platforms Use Geo-Blocking To Restrict Content In Countries

An error message notifying you that the content you want to watch is “not available in your region” can be one of the most annoying things that can occur when you use a streaming site.

It’s more frustrating when you’re a premium subscriber of Netflix or BBC Iplayer back home, for example, but just because you’re traveling outside the country, you can no longer have access to them because you’re in a restricted country.

To unblock BBC Iplayer in US, and other streaming platforms, you must be able to work around the geological restrictions imposed. What are these and why do they exist?

The practice of completely shutting or restricting access to online content based on a user’s geographic location is called geoblocking or geo-restriction. 

International streaming companies frequently employ geo-blocking as a strategy to safeguard licensing agreements.

To explain, the content that is available for streaming on websites like Netflix, Hulu, Paramount Plus, and HBO max, among others, is licensed. Where exactly the TV shows and music are available is specified by these licensing agreements. 

Competition is tight when it comes to getting exclusive licenses and distribution rights to specific events and content. So, these streaming services comply with the terms and conditions to collaborate with those that hold copyrights in the long run.

For example, Netflix produces or holds exclusive rights to popular TV shows like many well-known TV shows,Sci fi and Fiction movies such as Money Heist (La Casa de Papel), Squid Game, Bridgerton, Stranger Things, You, 13 Reasons Why, Lucifer, The Irishman, The Kissing Booth, Gilmore Girls, and many others.

However, Netflix does not hold the rights for the hit Game of Thrones series which are only available on HBO and HBO Max. 

Imagine if HBO Max were to one day violate its agreements with Game of Thrones, leading to the license holders refusing to renew the platform’s contract. You can only imagine how many platforms would scramble to seize this excellent opportunity!

Moreover, the majority of licenses give the streaming service the sole authority to distribute the licensed material in the licensed area. One company may hold the US streaming rights while another may hold the license for a given show in Europe. 

This situation commonly applies to coveted sports events like the Olympics and major sports matches like the NFL, where several companies have broadcast rights to specific locations only.

Another reason why streaming platforms implement geoblocks is the cost. Streaming services must pay for the rights to distribute content, and purchasing a license for a single nation will be less expensive than purchasing a global license. 

There is little point in a streaming site buying a broad license for a program that is only predicted to be popular in one region or country. The higher the viewership (or the hype) in the country, the more likely it is to be catered by the service.

You know, it’s just like concerts. Your favorite international boy bands, singers, or Korean boy groups and girl groups would only hold a concert during their tours when they know that they have an audience or a fan base in your country.

Even though it may be disappointing, there is a good reason for it. People must do a cost-benefit analysis and determine whether the advantages outweigh the costs. It would be a waste of resources and energy if it didn’t.

But what could be the reason why license holders also limit their regional coverage?

On the part of these studio providers and license partners, reasons could branch from costs to the protection of copyrighted materials.

First, it’s their way of protecting what’s valuable to them, especially in this digital era where everything is easily copied, shared, and exploited.  

Once the streaming company and license holders have contract disagreements due to breaches, the site or the license holder may withdraw the service and terminate the contract altogether.

This is not a new case, as we’ve seen this scenario in several collaborations on YouTube TV, Disney Plus, Netflix, and many more.

What to do about it?

To work around these geo-blocks, the only effective way is through a reliable VPN.

With an IP monitoring system, streaming services block all the IP addresses of places where the service is not yet accessible.

Your location is disclosed and the audio or video library is either limited or completely blocked when you sign into your preferred streaming service, depending upon how these agreements were drafted.

As a result, a virtual private network (VPN) is essential in protecting users’ privacy by masking and rerouting their Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. So when you use a VPN to connect to an American server, for example, you will lead the site to think that you’re in the United States. As a result, you may access its material from any location!

It’s also worth noting that not all VPNs (mainly free VPNs) are capable of providing efficient access to blocked content in regions that aren’t supported. 

While through a sheer amount of luck, a free VPN may unlock restricted content, the processing time would take you longer. Plus, the streaming quality is POOR, for lack of a better word.

Free VPNs don’t have the same level of security as paid ones. Regarding safety, free VPNs tend to keep logs and reveal Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Even if they claim to be effective, free VPNs should be avoided at all costs.

The Bottomline.

Streaming platforms use geo-blocking to restrict content in countries due to license agreements and distribution rights. Also, sites employ geo-blocks to cater to a specific audience and limit the cost.

Indeed, geo-restrictions are inevitable in today’s digital space. To get the most out of your streaming while outside your home country, you need to use a trustworthy VPN. A VPN that not only works but also offers features for security.

One of the leading VPNs in 2022 is ExpressVPN. This VPN has consistently ranked as the best for accessing geo-restrictions in just a few seconds. Major sites are accessible through ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer and smart DNS tool.

The amazing part is that you never have to worry about “getting caught” because of its 256-bit key encryption that protects and conceals your identity, activity, and IP addresses.

Sign up for ExpressVPN and score up to 49% discounts today.

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