You’d be hard-pressed to complain about the amount of choice on Netflix. Whether you’re using it to keep the kids amused, or want to enjoy fascinating documentaries or blockbuster movies, there’s enough content to keep you entertained for years.
But the difference in the quality on offer can vary wildly from country to country, which begs the question: ‘Are we getting a bum deal in the UK?’
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Who’s getting the best movies?
We looked at the 30 highest-rated films on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) to see how many were available in the UK versus the US and were shocked to discover UK subscribers can only access a third of the movies a US subscriber can.
Netflix isn’t entirely to blame for our lack of quality movies – it’s down to the movie studios, who set a price for their features that Netflix must match to be able to stream them. Being the savvy operators they are, studios like Universal and Paramount know that if a movie has a bigger audience in the UK than in, say, Norway they can hike up the price here.
There’s the issue of competition too. Netflix’s rivals, like Amazon Video and Now TV, can also bid for the movies and if they win they earn the right to stream them exclusively. To be able to watch all content you’d need to pay a pretty penny for a subscription to all the streaming services.
Even so, Netflix is the one of the most successful streaming services around so you’d think it could scrape together the extra cash for some of the best movies of all time, especially when you consider the calibre of the ones we’re missing out on.
US subscribers do pay slightly more each month than UK ones – at current exchange rates around 90p more for standard definition than the £5.99 it costs here – but this isn’t enough to justify the huge difference in the quality of movies available.
How can I access the movies I want?
The difference in choice didn’t used to be such a huge issue. If you knew your way round your router settings you could trick Netflix into thinking you were in the US by using a virtual private network (VPN). Unfortunately, Netflix has started to clamp down on VPN users, which it says is down to pressure from the movie studios.
There is a ray of hope though. Netflix told us that we could soon see the end of the licensing agreements that restrict where a film can be shown. Netflix says the change will happen when the studios realise that physical media is a dead duck and streaming over the internet is the way forward.
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