Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can allow Netflix subscribers in South Africa to access much larger libraries of movies and TV shows.
Netflix’s streaming service is available in an astounding 190 countries, but its catalogue varies greatly from region to region.
This is primarily because the different markets serve a diverse range of audiences, which have their own unique preferences and taboos.
This informs the demand for broadcasters or service providers to stream or broadcast certain movies or TV shows in particular regions.
In South Africa, Netflix faces competition for these rights from both international and local services.
This means that a user may have to subscribe to other services to be able to watch content which Netflix does not deem worthy of investment.
For example, John Wick 3 is available on Netflix in the UK, but is only offered on Showmax in South Africa.
South Africans can typically only stream The Office via Amazon Prime Video, while the same show is available on Netflix in the US.
In other instances, these rights disparities favour South Africans – such as in the case of Friends – which is still on Netflix in South Africa but has been pulled from the service to feature on HBO Max in the US.
Subscribing to all the services to be able to watch what you want could become a very expensive exercise.
There are also certain Netflix movies and TV shows which are exclusive to particular countries.
The answer is a VPN
Fortunately, a high-quality VPN service provides users with the ability to watch content from Netflix’s combined global library.
Aside from providing additional security from snooping service providers, government entities, or malicious parties, VPNs can allow users to access libraries from other countries.
VPNs mask users’ IP addresses by redirecting network traffic through a server which could be in a number of locations.
Provided that your chosen VPN supports the feature, you can select a server in a country in which the Netflix library carries a movie or show you would like to watch.
Starting from as little as R40 per month, you can subscribe to Surfshark, a popular and reputed VPN.
Other well-known VPNs include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark, and Cyberghost.
Biggest Netflix libraries
The Flixwatch website collects information on sizes and content of Netflix libraries in 100 countries.
According to its data, there is a total of 15,958 titles on the global Netflix catalogue, not accounting for any doubles.
Netflix in the UK currently offers the largest collection – with a total of 6,393 titles across originals, third-party movies and TV shows, stand-up shows and reality TV programmes.
The second-largest number is Canada with 6,357 titles, followed by Ireland at 6,339.
Curiously, the USA only ranks 16th on the list with a total library size of 5,992.
This could possibly be attributed to bigger competition for content rights and the wider availability of streaming services in that country – which means certain companies may have pulled their content from Netflix.
South Africa does not manage to break into the top 30 – even with a respectable total of 5,783 titles.
The table below shows how many titles are available in the top 30 countries which offer the largest Netflix libraries, and how their content compares with South Africa.
|Countries with largest Netflix libraries|
|Country||Total||Movies||TV shows||Originals||Documentary||Stand-up||Reality TV|
|4. Isle of Man||6,295||3,263||1,769||2,004||732||357||167|
|7. Czech Republic||6,174||3,406||1,597||1,982||675||342||147|
|14. New Zealand||6,020||3,177||1,645||1,990||687||350||154|
|29. Sri Lanka||5,850||2,947||1,734||1,979||670||345||147|
Choosing the right VPN and server
While a larger library could indicate an increased likelihood that a movie or TV show will be found on that country’s Netflix catalogue, it is still not guaranteed.
It would therefore be advisable to check various countries’ libraries to see if your preferred title is available.
There may very likely be particular movies and shows which are available from a country with a smaller total library than South Africa.
Once you’ve established a country in which the title can be streamed, you can select an available server in the chosen country from your VPN.
When it comes to choosing the right VPN for streaming, you should consider two key attributes.
- Capacity – The total number of servers.
- Locations – The number of countries or regions in which servers are available.
The second factor is more important for streaming overall, although higher capacity will offer better performance and uptime.
VPNs can strain network resources due to how data needs to be diverted between physically-separate locations.
Other important features include the VPN’s policies on data-sharing and storage.