How to Get American Netflix in Canada: Review of USVideo.caPosted by Mike Yawney on December 26th, 2010 View Comments
Many Canadians were extremely excited this fall when Netflix finally launched its service north of the border. Hundreds of thousands jumped online, signed up and sat back to watch streaming movies on their TV. Then they realized…the selection was abysmal. Basic Instinct, The Blair Witch Project and Open Water were some of the best movies under new releases. No word of a lie. And while selection has somewhat improved, Canadian content providers are standing in the way of Netflix acquiring rights for better content.
Netflix tracks its users’ IP address to see which service you get access to. If you live in Canada and have a Canadian IP address, you automatically get the limited Canadian Netflix service. By law, Netflix can’t allow Canadians to get its American service because Netflix doesn’t have the rights to stream certain movies or TV shows in Canada. Of course there is a way around this if you know what you are doing. Which raises the question…How do you get American Netflix in Canada?
While tinkering with ways to mask ones IP address, The Review Crew stumbled upon a Canadian start-up called USVideo.ca. The website claimed to offer a service which allows Canadians to access the American version of Netflix. Not only that, the service also claimed you can get access to Hulu, Hulu Plus, Amazon video, Pandora and streaming video from a number of other American TV sites which stream their content online. We contacted the company and challenged their claim. Now that we have access to the service and we can now offer our opinion on USVideo.ca. The Review Crew is in no way endorsing the service (because, um, it’s not strictly kosher and is likely violating a user agreement here and there), we are simply telling you about our experience with it.
USVideo makes it clear it is not a VPN (Virtual Private Network service). It tricks Netflix into thinking you are in the United States by making a few changes to settings in your router. USVideo refused to give us any more details as to how it works as they were concerned about it becoming public knowledge.
In order to get the service running, you’ll have to go to the company’s website and sign up. The service costs $4.99 Canadian a month and gives you a 7 day free trial. The process was quick and painless. Once we had our account confirmed, we were able to proceed to the setup section of the website.
To setup your router you must choose your router’s manufacturer from a list. D-Link, Netgear, Linksys, Airport Extreme, Bell Cell Pipe Routers and 2Wire are all on the list. That’s not to say other routers don’t work as there is an option for a generic router as well. Once you select your router, you are sent to another page to select which country you live in. Select Canada and then proceed to the next page where USVideo tells you the changes which must be made to your router’s configuration. The changes take about a minute.
Once the changes have been made, you are asked to reset your router and all the devices that will access Netflix, Hulu and other US services on your network. This includes the computer you are using to setup the service. Once they all reboot, you must visit the USVideo website once more. The website has a diagnostic tool to see if the service is running properly. If it’s up and running, you’ll get the following message.
And bingo–you’re ready to start your American Netflix account. Now that your IP is hidden you, can access Netflix.com rather than automatically be taken to Netflix.ca. Here you can setup an American account. For this you must have an American credit card. If you don’t have one, you can add an American address to your Canadian credit card. This is very easy to do. Call you credit card company up and ask to add a secondary shipping address. They will not question this as many Canadians do this to get items purchased online shipped to an American address. Use your credit card and sign up for the streaming only service (which has just been introduced to the US Netflix service). Once that’s done you are ready to test it out.
UPDATE: You don’t need to subscribe to an American Netflix account anymore. If you use your Canadian Netflix account it will think you’re traveling to the US and open up US content for you.
We primarily used the latest Apple TV to try out the American Netflix service in Canada. By logging into Netflix on Apple TV (with our American sign in info) we found, as promised, we had full access to the US Netflix service. We had more movies and much more TV content to choose from than we did on the Canadian service.
Quality was decent. We did find some pixelating and artifacts at times but it was sporadic. We also found the service would buffer from time to time but the most we ever had to wait for a movie to resume was about 10 seconds. This maybe happened once or twice during a 2 hour movie. Overall, we were satisfied with the quality.
While quality wasn’t a major issue we did find some hiccups in the service. While many devices were supported (PCs, Macs, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, Apple TV, Roku), we noticed the iPad Netflix App did not work. If you logged into the Netflix app, you would automatically be taken to the Canadian Netflix site. If you wanted to watch US Netflix on your iPad, you had to go through the web browser.
The Xbox 360 had it’s own issue. We found you had to have an American Xbox Live account with Gold membership status. Using a Canadian Xbox Live account automatically takes you to the Canadian Netflix service. That means if you are watching Netflix on your Xbox 360 you’ll have to setup and pay for an American Netflix Gold account, your monthly Netflix membership, and your monthly USVideo fee as well. It adds up!
The Bottom Line
Overall we were pretty pleased with what the service had to offer. It’s easy to setup, it works as advertised, and the quality was pretty good. The next step would be to try and use a VPN service to see how quality compares.
If you’re tired of what Netflix Canada is offering USVideo.ca is certainly offering you an alternative. Just be aware that subscribing to the American version of Netflix could very well be putting Netflix’s Canadian service at risk. If that matters to you, simply subscribe to both.
Much better selection
Occasional artifacts and pixelation
Netflix in Canada will get better over time. As the subscription base grows and more money flows into the coffers, Netflix should be able to, in theory, purchase better programming. If Canadians start subscribing to the American service, there is a possibility Netflix could fold its Canadian service all together if the subscription base dwindles. If you want better movies but still want Netflix to flourish in Canada, don’t be a cheapskate–pay for both an American and Canadian Netflix membership.
Tweet blog comments powered by Disqus