Netflix is a lot better across the pond in the US than it is here with load for content. So, here's how to get American Netflix in the UK. PLUS: how to get US Netflix on Xbox, PlayStation, Apple TV, iOS, Android and other devices. See: 42 new Netflix films and TV shows for April and Netflix Original series list for 2015.
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, Amazon Prime Video, Sky's Sky Store and Now TV have swept up the rights to many films exclusive – including the whole of Warner Bros' new releases. See also: The 80 best movies on Netflix UK
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). See also: Netflix vs LoveFilm Instant (Prime Video) comparison review: What's the best streaming service?
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. (See also: How to watch The Open golf online.)
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. Read: How to watch US Netflix on an Android smartphone or Tablet: Use a VPN to view US programs on you Android devices.
How to get American Netflix in the UK: Netflix's 'VPN ban'
This has implications on those using VPNs to 'virtually cross borders' and means you access US Netflix from the UK at your own risk.
The changes are likely to stop people viewing content in places for which Netflix doesn't own the rights. This could be because the legitimate content licencees are complaining: if Sky has paid for the UK rights to a movie you are watching on Netflix, Sky isn't happy.
In late 2014 Netflix told Engadget that it had not changed the way it handles VPNs. Our sister title PC World asked the company for further clarification, but has heard nothing in return. We have had no problems using a VPN as outlined below to access US Netflix from the UK. But, as we've said, you follow the tutorials below at your own risk.
How to get American Netflix in the UK: Hola unblocker plugin
Warning: Reports have emerged suggesting that Hola is selling users' bandwidth which can then be used by hackers to launch internet attacks. In fact, 8Chan says it's been the victim of multiple DDoS attacks via Hola describing it as "the most unethical VPN [it has] ever seen".
Hola's response is this: "Two vulnerabilities were found in our product this past week. This means that there was a risk of a hacker being able to operate remote code on some devices that Hola is installed on. The hackers who identified these issues did their job, and we did our job by fixing them. In fact, we fixed both vulnerabilities within a few hours of them being published and pushed an update to all our community. We are now undergoing an internal security review, as well as an external audit we have committed to with one of the big 4 auditing companies’ cyber auditing team."
We've added this update to help you better decide whether to use Hola or not.
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. If you're using Chrome, click on options (the three horizontal bars) then Extensions. In the Chrome web store, search for Hola Unblocker, and then click the Free button in the Extensions (NOT Apps) section of the results.
Go to Netflix. Chance are, the plug-in 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 the connection doesn't work, click on the little icon at the top of your browser window and there should be an option to try another server.
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.
How to get US Netflix on Xbox, PlayStation, Apple TV, iPad, Android and more
If you want to get US Netflix on your Xbox or PlayStation then you will need to fiddle with some DNS settings. If you head to the network settings of the console/device and manually configure the settings then you can enter a primary and secondary DNS (Domain Name Servers) numbers.
You can search the internet for these (they change fairly regularly) and DroidKit has a good list which you can try. They are free but get easily clogged up and slow and occasionally send you to someone's own site rather than Netflix in an attempt to sell you VPN software or worse.
If you fail to get any of the free ones working, or don't like the sound of it, then you can use a paid for service called Unblock Us. It costs $4.99 Canadian dollars per month but there's a free trial so you can test it out before committing fully. The server numbers you need are 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206.
Unblock Us is compatible with various devices including games consoles, media streamers, Android, iOS and more. The site has good guides on how to change your DNS settings on specific devices. If you encounter any problems try a simple reboot of your device which normally fixes things. See also: Netflix tips & tricks