Does Netflix Really Have 20 Million-Plus Users in China? Research Firm Projects Massive VPN Base
North of 30 million monthly users access Netflix from countries where it doesn’t even offer service — including 21.6 million in China — if recent estimates from a British online-research firm are to be believed.
Those users would have to tunnel through virtual private network (VPN) services, to trick Netflix into seeing them as legitimately accessing the streaming service in another country (i.e., the U.S.). Consumers use VPNs and other geo-spoofing tech to log in to Netflix either because the service is not available in their country or because content they want is not licensed for their territory. Either way, that’s a violation of the terms of Netflix’s licensing deals with studios and networks.
According to U.K.-based GlobalWebIndex, some 54 million people use VPNs to watch Netflix on a monthly basis. In addition to the 21.6 million estimate for China, Netflix streaming users in India (where Netflix also has not launched) total 6.4 million. Meanwhile, Netflix offers service in Brazil and Mexico, but VPN users in those countries total 4.9 million and 2.6 million, respectively, per GWI. The research firm extrapolated the figures based on surveys of 83,000 people in the second half of 2014.