Why Netflix Can't Actually Show House Of Cards To All Of Its Customers

Netflix has spent a lot of time marketing itself as the anti-network TV, giving fans more opportunities to view original content and to binge that original content. However, currently Netflix is dealing with a problem that a lot of network and cable companies are dealing with: licensing deals hindering content across multiple countries. Because of this, the subscription streaming service has been unable to provide access to episodes of House of Cards in many of the 190 countries Netflix has service in.

House of Cards Season 4 dropped on Friday, March 4 in many countries around the world. However, reports indicate that in places as diverse as most countries in Africa, Germany, Hong Kong, Spain and Switzerland, users could not access the Kevin Spacey-led series. In fact, dozens of countries were affected.

Licensing deals are sometimes really beneficial. Because PBS worked out a licensing deal with ITV, US viewers were able to gain access to episodes of Downton Abbey, albeit a bit late. Because TV and film content is way more global than it used to be, in many cases, licensing deals have gotten better so that shows like Doctor Who or Game Of Thrones are able to premiere in many different areas at the same time. The dream that Netflix has been selling is that the company’s original content is global, but that isn’t true in every case.

The news is also coming just a few weeks after Netflix started cracking down on VPNs, which allowed users to access Netflix content available in other countries. At the end of February, the streaming service started cutting off users who were using VPNS. If it happens—whether accidentally or on purpose—a black screen and error message will pop up asking users to turn off proxys or unblockers. Those who couldn’t get Netflix originals like House of Cards before had a much easier time of accessing the content. Now TorrentFreak says some users are resorting to piracy.

This may not be a problem over the long haul, as Netflix is saying some missteps were made with earlier deals that have not been made with newer shows. This is why shows like House of Cards, but also Orange Is The New Black--both of which have been renewed--are not available everywhere.

Most of our originals content will be available globally. However, with these two earlier shows, we didn’t negotiate global licenses to the content and so they’ve aired on other platforms in the meantime.

Currently, Netflix’s programming is a little different everywhere. That’s because Netflix not only has its own originals, but also has a catalog of syndicated TV and movies from other companies. Down the line, hopefully its originals will all be available worldwide, but for now, if you live in one of the affected countries, shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black may remain elusive.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.