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Slingshot Brings Netflix to New Zealand

UPDATED 1:50 PM EST: Need Netflix in New Zealand? Internet service provider Slingshot has you covered.

Despite the fact that Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) isn't officially available in New Zealand, Slingshot is helping subscribers route around geo-restrictions to access the online video service. The ISP has turned on its Global Mode service by default for all subscribers, making it appear that users are logging on to the web from different locations. The feature makes not only Netflix available, but also other online video services that are not locally supported, or else offer limited and/or more expensive content catalogs.

When Slingshot first introduced Global Mode in 2013, it said the feature "aimed at providing overseas visitors with similar Internet accessibility as they would have in their country." However, the company has become far less coy now that Global Mode is turned on as a default setting.

Slingshot general manager Taryn Hamilton told The New Zealand Herald, "No beating around the bush. This is to watch Netflix; this is to watch BBC iPlayer; this is to watch Amazon Prime."

Anti-geo-blocking services like Global Mode don't always work perfectly or consistently. Content providers like Netflix sometimes adjust delivery settings, causing interruptions in video streaming. Earlier this year, Slingshot subscribers on an online forum reported Netflix errors while using Global Mode. It turned out that Netflix had apparently changed its URL format in the US and Canada, which affected how some content was cached and ultimately delivered.

It's hard to know if any one configuration change is done deliberately to curb out-of-region video streaming or if it's unrelated to geo-restrictions. However, content companies are keen for services like Netflix to block unauthorized viewers.

A spokesperson from Netflix has said in a statement to Light Reading: "We don't typically comment on other companies' actions. And since we haven't announced any plans to launch in New Zealand, we'd also decline to comment."

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

mhhf1ve 7/9/2014 | 6:44:24 PM
Technologically easy to block? How is this ISP really disguising its geolocation? Presumably, the same methods that identify spammers' domains would be able to identify Kiwi Netflix requests? 

Netflix shouldn't really care about this, but as FMW notes, the content providers could raise a stink and spoil the fun.
Mitch Wagner 7/8/2014 | 7:26:02 PM
Look the other way It behooves Netflix to look the other way at this. What does Netflix have to gain by cutting off this group of subscribers, even if it's a very small group? As long as Netflix's content providers don't raise too much of a stink, I expect the kiwis will continue to enjoy Orange Is the New Black.
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