Netflix launched in the UK last month. For those not in the know, Netflix UK is a service that lets you pay £5.99 a month to access a wide variety of movies and TV shows and stream them to your PC, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, phone or tablet.
So far I’ve been very happy with it, but there’s one thing Netflix hasn’t sorted yet in the UK – the size of the library. There’s a perfectly good reason for this – while Netflix has been going for a long time in the US and has spent years building a bunch of license agreements with various film and TV studios, in the UK they’re basically starting from scratch again and so they have to sort out all these licenses all over again.
This is why Netflix UK has, for example, around 80 movies in its horror category, whereas Netflix US has 1680. Little do some people know, however, that there is actually a way to access the US Netflix library in the UK.
This little trick’s been doing the rounds online and I can confirm it’s been working for me, as well everyone else in the UK who’s tried it. It should also work for anyone living in Canada who also wants to view the US library. All you have to do is go to your console’s network settings and change the DNS settings to the following:
Primary DNS Setting – 126.96.36.199
Secondary DNS Setting – 188.8.131.52
Now, after you do this, when you next load up the Netflix app you’ll be presented with the much bigger US catalogue instead of the decent, but minimal UK one. Once you’re done you can then go back to your network settings and change the DNS settings to Automatic, which will make your router choose the default DNS settings again like before.
How does this work? Well, I’ve done a little research and the answer is something that may disappoint some people but actually isn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things.
Basically, when you load up the Netflix app, it looks at your DNS address. This address tells Netflix which country you’re accessing it from, and so it then displays the library available to that country. If you were to go to America on holiday and log onto the Netflix site with your laptop, you’d also get the full US catalogue because it’d realise you’re logging on from America and give you the films it’s licensed to show there.
The particular DNS numbers I provided above belong to a site called UnblockUs. It’s a paid service that lets you connect your router through their American-based DNS server, so that when you load up Netflix the app looks at the DNS, sees that it’s American and shows you the US catalogue.
The reason anyone can use it for free is because UnblockUs offers a week’s free trial for anyone to see how it works. Every time you connect using those DNS settings UnblockUs checks your IP address (the address of your router) to see if the week’s trial is up. This means there’s a very good chance that a week after you first try this, the trick will no longer work and you’ll just get an error. I should stress here that there are no security issues here, every website checks your IP address when you go to it. This one just blocks access to its DNS server after a week, at no point does it ever have access to any of your information.
If, after a week, you start getting this error message, if you want to get it working again you’ll need to go to the UnblockUs site, register with them and pay them a small monthly fee of $4.99 (£3.16) a month to continue to use their DNS settings (paid via PayPal or credit card). If you don’t want to do that, then it’s no problem – simply change your DNS settings back to Automatic and go back to the UK catalogue. Again, bear in mind they’ve never had access to any of your personal details, and you can pay through PayPal to ensure they never do. It’s perfectly safe, whether you decide to start paying or you choose to switch back to your UK DNS settings.
Some of you will be disappointed by the fact you may have to pay extra, but frankly I don’t mind. I’m already paying £5.99 a month to use Netflix’s UK catalogue, so personally I don’t mind in the slightest paying an extra £3 to get a catalogue roughly 25-30 times the size, especially when the vast majority of the films are in HD quality.
Now, that aside, you’ll also want to be able to browse the US Netflix catalogue in full. This presents another problem, because when you go to the Netflix site it automatically brings up the UK library. To counter this, UnblockUs also offers a little PC/Mac app you can download and run whenever you want. When you run the app, it changes the network settings of your computer (essentially doing the same thing as the Xbox/PS3/Wii trick) so that the Netflix site displays the US catalogue instead. You can then turn off the UnblockUs app to switch back to your UK DNS settings. Simple!
Check the trick out – if it works for you and you like the newer catalogue, keep trying it until it stops working, then consider paying the extra £3 a month at UnblockUS. I know I will be.