Chances are the Brits won’t be able to bring their local Netflix library along when traveling to the EU after Brexit. That is to happen if the UK fails to avoid leaving without a deal.
In October 2018, the UK Government released 29 technical papers in addition to the 75 already published – all of them aimed at preparing for a worst-case Brexit scenario.
But the content of these documents concerns not only Netflix and its users:
The portability regulation will cease to apply to UK nationals when they travel to the EU. This means online content service providers will not be required or able to offer cross-border access to UK consumers under the EU Regulation. UK consumers may see restrictions on their online content services when they temporarily visit the EU.
How does this UK legislation translate to (not) watching Netflix?
Both parties must reach a deal before October 31, 2019, to avoid the UK losing EU-wide portability rules. But the most likely scenario is that the deadline will be extended for the third time, given that there’s less than a month left at the time of writing this article.
Netflix has assured the UK users that its service would still be available after Brexit. But what was not stressed is that the extension of service will be done on a geo-location basis. Therefore, traveling abroad from the UK will allow access only to a local Netflix library, which might not include all the content available in the UK. Good news is that most of the national Netflix libraries should overlap.
December 3, 2018, was another important date both for the EU and the UK. It’s when The Geo-blocking Regulation aimed at stopping the discrimination based on nationality or place of residence, came into effect. It allows EU citizens to access online services bought locally in all member states freely. This includes online purchases and e-services, such as cloud storage or hosting. Most importantly, the vendors will be obliged to offer the same terms and conditions without restricting payment options.
If there’s no deal by October 31, 2019, the UK will cease to be included in this regulation. That will make the UK a “third country,” to which certain services won’t be licensed. Both the UK and the EU would need to find a workaround, meaning that some UK company can offer different terms to locals when compared to EU member states. At first, this might look like a great way to give a better deal for homies, but it can backfire with the EU offering worse terms to the UK.
Brexit repercussions are beyond Netflix and the EU
Brexit will most certainly affect not only the relations between the UK and the EU. There’s an EU-US Privacy Shield, a framework for regulating transatlantic exchanges of personal data for commercial purposes. Nobody knows how the UK-US data flow will be regulated after Brexit.
If that weren’t enough, a no-deal Brexit would result in losing free trade agreements with more than 70 countries, further complicating the process of providing and pricing online and offline services.
The worst part is that a no-deal Brexit will affect not only the UK but thousands of companies in different states and jurisdictions. That includes not only Netflix but other streaming services, such as Spotify, as well.
Losing access to some Netflix shows probably won’t devastate the majority of Brits, but the Spotify case is another story. Using Spotify in another country for more than two weeks prompts a request to upgrade or change the location. Given the ever-increasing mobility of the UK’s millennials, the possible consequences of this situation only illustrate the magnitude of the digital chaos that awaits patiently.
How to watch Netflix UK post-Brexit
So, what the Brits could do to after a no-deal Brexit to continue watching Netflix UK and accessing other streaming platforms they’ve become used to? The answer is to get a VPN, which can unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other services. A VPN masks your IP address and makes it look like you’re logging in from the UK.
Time will only tell what the real impact of Brexit will be on your ability to watch Netflix, so stay tuned and we'll keep you updated with any big news.