Is TunnelBear not working with Netflix? Bad news. This means it’s been blocked by Netflix’s servers. Here we show you the best workaround for the block so you can start watching US Netflix again.
Why does Netflix block TunnelBear and other VPNs?
Before we go any further, it’s important to understand why Netflix has started blocking VPNs.
The reason for this is all to do with licensing. Which is also the reason why Netflix has different sized libraries for different countries.
Netflix only buys streaming licenses for TV shows and Films on a country-by-country basis. The cost of this is spread out by the number of subscribers Netflix has in a country. When you consider that America makes up nearly 50% of Netflix’s customer base, you start to understand why it has the biggest library.
In 2011, for example, Netflix paid Disney $200m to stream its film and TV library. While the full Season of Lost cost Netflix an extra $45m. This expenditure is easily covered by Netflix’s 54.75m customers in the US. The problem is that Netflix has another 62.83m subscribers spread over across 160 countries. And territories have access to different library sizes, depending on their collective buying power – Australia’s 2.8m subscribers will have access to less content than the UK’s 7.5m for example.
The point is, the TV and Film rights holders sell their content to Netflix based on the number of viewers it will reach. VPNs have confused things on both sides of the negotiating table regarding a how many subscriber figures in a certain territory.
The simple solution for Netflix was to start blocking connections to its servers coming from VPNs.
How Netflix blocks VPNs?
Let’s start by looking at how VPNs work.
VPNs allow customers to anonymously browse the internet via an encrypted and private network of servers based in multiple countries. Data from a customer’s computer or mobile device is encrypted and sent to a server in a location of their choice. When the packets of data reach the server, the data is decrypted and relayed to the server’s local ISP (internet service providers), where it is treated as a standard internet connection.
This process allows VPN users to successfully spoof their location, and watch another country’s online streaming service.
The problem is that the VPN servers don’t create dedicated IPs for individual customers. This leads to VPN customers all sharing the same IP address.
Which makes it pretty easy for Netflix to block. And it does. When Netflix detects an abnormal amount of activity (logins and content streaming) coming from the same IP address, it blacklists it. When this happens, anyone accessing Netflix from this IP will see the dreaded ‘You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy’ error message.
TunnelBear not working with Netflix? Here’s how to fix that!
There are two easy ways to bypass the Netflix block. You can either buy a VPN that gives you a dedicated IP (that’s not shared with other customers), or you get a VPN that is winning the game of Cat and Mouse with Netflix.
There are currently two VPN providers that specialise in dedicated VPNs. Pure VPN offers customers a dedicated VPN in the US, UK or Canada for an extra $1.99/month on top of the regular VPN price. We’ve had mixed results with the dedicated IP from PureVPN. It works well when trying to access BBC iPlayer abroad, but the same IP is blocked when trying to watch UK Netflix, suggesting it’s not a perfect fit. NordVPN also offers, a dedicated IP, but the connection is not an ‘off-the-shelf’ option like it is with PureVPN.
Buying a VPN that is winning the game of Cat and Mouse with Netflix. This simply means buy a VPN that creates a new IP address whenever Netflix blocks one of its old IPs. This is the preferred way to bypass the Netflix block, but it sometimes requires cycling through a VPN’s servers until you find a connection that works. Unless you get a subscription with PureVPN, NordVPN or ExpressVPN. These three providers offer ready-made solutions.
We think is the service we use and is a good option for two reasons. First, it has a user-friendly app (Windows, Mac, Android and iOS) that lets you select your “Purpose” for using a VPN. It will then automatically connect you to its best Server for the job. To watch US Netflix for example, you would go to Purpose and then Netflix US. This works with a range of different services including BBC iPlayer and Amazon Instant Video.
The other service PureVPN offers is a dedicated IP. Which, in theory, means you are the only one who has access to the server’s IP. We have tried this service out with mixed success. It works well with BBC iPlayer, however, our dedicated IP was detected when trying to watch UK Netflix (from New Zealand). So, our advice is to speak to PureVPN via their onsite Live Chat feature and discuss your options first.
We’ve been using PureVPN for several months now and we’re happy with the service.
NordVPN has a Pop-out Support section of its website where you can easily navigate to information showing which servers and IPs are currently working with US Netflix.
This service offers a 24/7 Live Chat service where you can contact them at any time to find out which servers are working with Netflix.
Read next: How to watch ITV Hub abroad?