Earlier this year tech-savvy people across Africa were excited about Netflix coming into the continent. I know, I was one of them even though I had used the service for a couple of years. In 2014, when I first signed up for the service, I couldn’t even get to the sign-up page without using a VPN to mask my IP.
However, once I did that- using the excellent Hotspot Shield– I had access to the latest Netflix original shows. I’d just watched the first season of House of Cards on DVD, and now I could watch the second and upcoming third season.
Netflix and Location
Using a VPN program with Netflix was just de rigueur even if you were in a country that had the service. The offerings on Netflix differ from location to location. An example: having binged the first season of Being Mary Jane with my friend in the US in April, I attempted to introduce another friend to it in England, alas, there was no Being Mary Jane on the UK version. If we were really desperate to watch it, we could have run our VPN, pretended we were in America, and browsed and watched the US Netflix Library to our heart’s content.
In summary, not all versions of Netflix are equal. Hell even the US Netflix lacks some of the cool shows from other countries. Chances are if you use it a lot, you might have found a quibble or two with the offerings.
There are many reasons for this. TV rights deals are a labyrinthine morass at the best of times. Sometimes a channel in your station might already have the rights to the shows you want to watch. If that’s the case, then chances are that show won’t be on Netflix. I discovered this to my shock and dismay when I came back home to Nigeria and having wanted to get into Orange is the New Black, discovered that it was not on there.
Not a big deal you might say. Activate your VPN and use the US version. Unfortunately, this is no longer possible. Netflix has cracked down on all VPN services. Unless someone comes up with a revolutionary new way of getting through the blocks, Netflix tourism is over.
This changes a lot. If you’re in the US, maybe not too much, you still have a lot of content. Not so much in African one. According to one report, African Netflix- and I should state that, this is actually the South African one that all of us in Africa have access to- apparently has about 93% less content than the American version.
Even Netflix original programming like the aforementioned House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, are missing with Cards lacking the last two seasons and Orange non-existent because of existing deals.
So, is it worth it?
There is still a lot of stuff on there, so maybe you’ll find things you want. Personally, anything I want to watch never seems to be on there. The latest was Voltron: Ultimate Defender, another Netflix show that is not on the (South) African Netflix.
It was at this point that I started to consider whether the service was worth it. With the upcoming price-increase and Nigeria’s Naira cratering, it’s sometimes hard to justify it.
There are things on there, I could watch at a push, and Luke Cage should debut this Friday, but it shouldn’t be at a push. I shouldn’t feel like I’m trying to get my money’s worth as I sit through a series I only half-care about.
Featured image: evatese blog