How to Watch Netflix in South Africa
Techie Tuesdays: With the release of House of Cards Season 2 on Netflix last week Friday, I resolved to sort out the “Netflix in South Africa” issue I have been postponing for some time now. Turns out it is not really an issue. So if you have decent speed (preferably uncapped) broadband at home, a few extra dollars per month and a few minutes to spare, read on…
What is Netflix?
Netflix is one of a few on-demand Internet streaming media providers, i.e. they allow subscribers to watch their favourite television shows/ movies/ documentaries/ etc. online, whenever they want. Some notable competitors include Hulu and Amazon Prime.
The Issue: No Netflix in South Africa:
Currently Netflix is only available to viewers in North and South America, the Caribbean, and parts of Europe (Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom). So when you visit their website you are greeted with a “We do not currently service your region” / “Shame you are from SA” page.
So to get around this issue, you need to find a way to hide/ mask where your request is coming from when you click-through to Netflix. Without getting too technical (because I really have no idea what most of this means), it seems you also have the option to set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or use a browser plugin – but I opted for a paid service based on a friend’s recommendation – Unotelly.
Is it Legal?
Haha, coming from someone who probably downloads a fair amount of content of the internet, this is a lot more legal than that.
Netflix buys the distribution rights from content owners, usually for specific territories. That means that they are not allowed to willingly distribute the content in other regions. By masking your location, they can argue that you misrepresented where you were from – i.e. they can avoid liability. If the content owners complain, Netflix could terminate your account but at the end of the day, you are paying Netflix for the use of their services – so they probably don’t mind having some sneaky Saffas on board. And could not seriously be expected to manage this level of complexity for each customer.
Moral of the story: The same way most of us download content off the internet knowing that it infringes copyright but certain we will never be prosecuted (‘cos then “they” would have to take EVERYONE in the world to court), we can be pretty certain that using Netflix in SA is pretty legal.
1. Sign Up for Unotelly:
Unotelly magically (all this tech stuff is kinda like magic, #amirite?) knows which data it needs to hide/ mask as coming from another place and which data to leave alone.
They offer a free 8 day UnoDNS Premium Trial which means you can set it up and test it before making any commitment (but trust me, once you see what is on offer, you will definitely be willing to fork out the $4.95 per month for this service). The free trial only asks for your name, email and a password #riskfree.
2. Set Up Unotelly:
The following screen asks you to select a region preference. Since I just wanted to test out Netflix in the US, I selected this option. I will have to go and explore some of the other services/ channels once I have worked my way through a gazillion hours of Netflix streaming.
3. Set Up your Computer:
You are then asked which operating system you use. Do not worry, once set up on your computer, you can set up UnoDNS on all your other devices.
Follow the step-by-step guides to set up UnoDNS on your computer (accompanied by video and loads of screenshots). All it boils down to is accessing the network settings for your particular device and changing the DNS.
4. Sign Up for Netflix:
Now when you click-through to the Netflix website, you will be able to sign up. Netflix costs $7.99 per month (to stream on 2 devices simultaneously) or $11.99 (to stream on 4 devices simultaneously). So for the equivalent of approximately R87 per month (damn you weak exchange rate) you can watch most your favourite shows. And use the money you would have spent on DSTV to buy your friends presents to compensate for your prolonged absences.
Once again you have the option of signing up for the free trial (one month), to test the set up etc. Netflix does however request your credit card details at this point. I tested both my FNB Cheque and FNB Credit cards and both were accepted. Just remember to enter a US zip code – I just used 94043.
5. Let all your friends know that you will see them in a few months:
I am really amazed by the content Netflix has on offer. Obviously my first port of call has been binge-watching House of Cards Season 2. Another Netflix original production to look forward to is Orange is the New Black Season 2, which will premiere on 6 June 2014. Until then I have some time to finally watch seasons 4 and 5 of Breaking Bad and (this is embarrassing) seasons 4 to 6 of Lost, which I have been meaning to do for ages (4 years to be exact). Of course there is also the massive movie selection and equally impressive documentary selection. Enough to keep you busy for a long, long time.
Related topics coming soon:
- How to set up a US iTunes account in South Africa
- How to set up your AppleTV to stream Netflix