American friends get much more from Netflix that we do Britain. Find out how you can see shows like Mad Men and American Horror Story here.
One of the most common complaints from Netflix customers here in Blighty is that we don't have access to the same amount of content that US-based users do – especially films. Competing streaming services such as Sky's Sky Store and Now.TV have swept up the rights to many films exclusive – including the whole of Warner Bros' new releases.
Netflix US also gets TV shows earlier than we do here in the UK. You can watch cult favourites such as Mad Men and American Horror Story on Netflix US – but not on NetFlix UK. Sometimes this is linked to content deals between US producers and UK TV channels that mean you can't see episodes until after they've debuted on UK – sometimes the reasoning behind this is unclear (like much of international content licensing).
The oddity of licensing – coupled with that you essentially have an international subscription to Netflix rather than to Netflix UK – means what affects what you have access to is based on where you are, not where you signed up. This was brought home to me on a recent trip to the US. I opened my laptop in a hotel room in New York, logged onto Netflix and was greeted with a warm message welcoming me to the US and letting me know that things are different over there – though it mainly concentrated on ratings differences, which is good if you've got kids like me. A quick scroll down the homepage made what those changes were obvious – a heck of a lot of films that aren't available now I'm back in the UK. Bummer.
Well, kind of. It's very easy to get your hands on browser plugins that let you pretend you're in the US – which means you get the US Netflix content instead. This is officially naughty and almost certainly against Netflix's T&Cs, which says "You also agree not to: circumvent, remove, alter, deactivate, degrade or thwart any of the content protections in the Netflix service" – and could get you banned.
However, assuming you're comfortable with this, this is how you do it. It only works on PCs, Macs and Android Tablets – not with the iPad, iPhone, PS3 or TV sets or services.
US Netflix Hola unblocker plugin
First off you need to download the Hola unblocker browser plugin, which works with Chrome, Firefox or the Android OS. Here we've used Firefox.
Go to hola.org and click on Download. Install the plugin.
Go to Netflix. Chance are, the plugin will notice and either offer to switch you the US – or have done it automatically. Either way, you'll soon see a whole bunch of content that's technically off limits to those of us in the UK.
If you want to go back to the UK Netflix – for example, to watch BBC content that's not available in the US – just switch off Hola and reload the page. Voila.