There are many economic problems packaged with Brexit, but one that I don’t think is focused on enough is the problem of streaming services in the EU.
See, the union of the United Kingdom and the EU guarantee that citizens of the UK can use their streaming services abroad, as long as “abroad” is somewhere in the EU. However, Brexit removes this guarantee, specifically, a no-deal Brexit.
While you could use Netflix or Spotify in the EU, you’ll be in for a nasty surprise when your trip to France disallows you from catching up on the latest season of the show you’ve been binging for the past four weeks.
But why would a no-deal Brexit affect streaming services? Wait, how does it work now?
The EU’s Portability Regulation
On April 1st, 2018, the EU set forth the Portability Regulation. This regulation removes discrimination of a citizen’s location in regard to streaming services and the content viewable to the citizen.
Simply put, the Portability Regulation allowed a UK citizen to view UK content everywhere in the EU. Remember, streaming services like Netflix use different catalogs depending on the country the account is active in. As a citizen of the United States, I wouldn’t be able to view the US catalog in Canada. Does that make sense?
However, this can all come under fire if a no-deal Brexit is finalized, AKA if the UK and the EU cannot come to an agreement–deal–by October 31st. And by the recent actions of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit is becoming more and more likely.
A No-Deal Brexit and Streaming Services
A no-deal Brexit is exactly what it sounds like: no deal will be made between the UK and EU. No trade regulations will be set in stone, benefits once available to the UK will longer be available, and regulations such as the Portability Regulation will no longer apply to the UK.
If the Portability Regulation is no longer in effect for the UK, then some citizens will become very upset on their trip to France or Germany. Under the regulation, they could access their normal catalog; Without, they’d be at the mercy of the content Netflix deems appropriate for the country in question.
This practice is familiar in non-EU countries AKA most countries in the world, as it goes by the name “geo-blocking”. Geo-blocking takes place in varying degrees across the world, and some countries such as China or Saudi Arabia are notorious for their use of geo-blocking to block content the government doesn’t deem appropriate.
Avoiding a Geo-Blocked Netflix
Now, the good news is that there are ways to maneuver around geo-blocking in the case that a no-deal Brexit goes through. Well, a way.
In countries burdened by geo-blocking, using a VPN to view Netflix or access Spotify is more traditional than optional. With a VPN, you can set your connection to another server outside the country you’re currently in, so the program will be fooled into thinking you’re in the country that houses the server.
As an example, let’s say no-deal Brexit is a reality and you’ve taken a vacation to France. If you wanted to watch a show that is not available in France but is in the UK, all you’d need to do is connect a server located in the UK through the VPN. Once you do, you’ll have access to the UK catalog instead of the French catalog.
Let’s hope there’s no need to jump through these hoops though. While nothing is definite until October 31st, a no-deal Brexit seems likely. However, citizens are currently protesting the Parliament shutdown, so there’s still a chance for the UK to make a deal with the EU before then. If for nothing else, think about all the shows you may miss if you travel through the EU.