Four Seasons Toronto circumvents Netflix geofence

Streaming company says it doesn’t know how guests are accessing its U.S. catalog.

four seasons, netflix geofence

Four Seasons Netflix Geofence:

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I was idly perusing Twitter the other day when a series of tweets by National Post executive producer Jordan Timm caught my eye.

He was relating the story of how he had used the free wi-fi in the Four Seasons hotel in Toronto over the weekend to watch some Netflix. Yet, when he tried to fire up Riverdale – the show based on Archie Comics characters – he couldn’t find it.

Instead, he came across The Great British Baking Show, which he checked out and apparently enjoyed.

This led to him to a humorous conclusion:

But also a more serious one:

It does indeed seem like Timm inadvertently stumbled onto U.S. Netflix, given that Riverdale is not in the American catalog but is in the Canadian version.

The Great British Baking Show, meanwhile, is on U.S. Netflix but not in Canada. I’ve verified both.

So how did this happen, given that Netflix has cracked down hard on subscribers using circumvention methods such as VPNs to hop virtual borders?

Does the company have some sort of special arrangements with hotels to otherwise allow it?

Not so, according to Netflix.

“It’s the first we’ve heard of this happening to a user on a hotel network,” says spokesperson Marlee Tart. “Unfortunately, it’s difficult for us to know what exactly happened here … and, therefore, would prefer not to speculate.”

For its part, Four Seasons isn’t talking – a spokesperson did not return a request for comment.

I can’t speculate as to what’s happening either, but it seems like the hotel is employing some form of circumvention method that’s smart enough to get around Netflix’s geoblocks.

There are certainly many subscribers that would like to know the hotel’s secret, as would Netflix itself. With luck, I’ll have more on this soon.

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1 Comment on Four Seasons Toronto circumvents Netflix geofence

  1. Netflix can’t detect/block all VPN traffic, but can only really block it from known sources.

    For example, I have a VPN connection that isn’t through one of the popular VPN services, and I can get Netflix US from my home in Toronto without any trouble, because my US IP looks like it’s just coming from a regular corporate network.

    Four Seasons is likely routing through a private peering arrangement (or perhaps, routing the traffic through their corporate network?) which terminates in the US to make this work.

    Hotels have video-on-demand services so they are probably already set up to stream large amounts of video into their network, probably from a US provider, so this may not even be on purpose, but might be a happy coincidence due to their existing network setup.

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