Russia is the home of Vladimir Putin, Beef Stroganoff and potent vodka. (Pro tip: never base a drinking game on taking a drink every time a Russian dancer yells “HEY!”)
The country boasts an internet penetration rate of 76.4% and an average internet speed of 7.4 Mbps. However, what it doesn’t boast is access to American Netflix content.
Russian citizens do have access to a Russian version of Netflix but lack access to Netflix in the United States. The Russian version of the streaming service is quite Russian-centric, with little of the content that’s available in the U.S.
A Sampling of Netflix’s American Content Offerings
While I’m sure Russian Netflix content has its own particular charm, what’s an American expat or visitor to Russia supposed to do when they’re Jonesing for a Trailer Park Boys marathon?
The easy way to access US Netflix in Russia...
You don’t need to relocate to access the US Netflix library, all you need is a VPN, but not all VPNs will work.
I’ve tested a lot of VPNs and I find ExpressVPN to be the most reliable for access to Netflix USA and many other countries.
It’s really fast as well so you can binge in HD without the buffering.
ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.
Why American Netflix Can’t Be Accessed in Russia
A Netflix user’s subscription provides them with entry to any country’s Netflix content. However, they need to be inside the borders of a country to gain access to that content. This means that if you’re in Russia, you won’t have access to American Netflix content.
When a user enters “https://netflix.com” into their browser or opens the Netflix app, they’ll find that they are automatically routed to the content licensed for their current location, not necessarily the country where they signed up.
This limitation isn’t because Netflix is a control freak. Instead, it is because the streaming service’s content providers are control freaks.
Why Is American Netflix Content Blocked in Russia?
Any movie or television show you watch on Netflix is licensed from film studios and television networks. The contracts Netflix signs with these content owners all include restrictions that say that viewing of the content must be limited to a specific region.
These restrictive content licensing agreements are why the streamer doesn’t provide access to U.S. content to viewers in Russia (and vice versa). If they didn’t keep a close eye on things, they’d soon be dealing with the studio and network lawyers (and nobody likes those guys).
How Does Netflix Block Non-Residents From Viewing American Netflix Content?
When one of your devices connects to the internet, it’s assigned a unique IP address, which identifies it on the internet. The address acts as a point of reference for all of the information it both sends and receives. Think of your postal address, if that helps you picture it.
Countries are all assigned a range of IP addresses for use by connected devices inside their borders. Netflix can tell which country a connection is originating from by reading the IP address being used. They can then direct the viewer’s connection to the correct content library for their region.
How a VPN Gets Around Netflix’s Barriers
What Is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) offers a selection of helpful services to their subscribers – not the least of which is the VPN’s ability to “spoof” the user’s IP address.
When I say “spoof,” I mean the VPN can make it appear that the user’s connection is originating from another location. This comes in handy when you’re attempting to access Netflix in another country.
A VPN also makes a terrific tool for keeping your online activities under cover by encrypting your connection. This makes it nearly impossible for an outsider, such as a nosy government, an ISP or that guy sitting across the coffee shop from monitoring your activities and their connected business and personal information.
How a VPN Enables Access to American Netflix Content
A VPN’s ability to spoof a user’s IP address is the reason why it can enable access to Netflix content that might normally be off-limits.
A user loads his VPN app and selects a VPN server located in the United States. This means the user’s connection now appears to be coming from inside the U.S., despite their true location in Russia.
Netflix sees that the connection appears to be coming from the U.S. and directs the user to the U.S.-only content.
For a long while, this was a nearly foolproof way to access out-of-country Netflix movies and shows. But all good things must come to an end, and Netflix eventually caught on to what was happening.
The streaming service became adept at detecting VPN usage among its viewers and began blocking the IP addresses the VPNs were using. This frustrated some of the smaller, more resource-limited VPN providers, most of which eventually decided to give up on providing access to Netflix.
However, there are some VPN services that are still swinging and working to provide reliable access to Netflix. The best of this group is ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN provides the most reliable way to access Netflix content, no matter which country you’re in. The VPN service does an excellent job of maintaining open access to Netflix for its customers.
In my experience with the provider, it offers consistently speedy connections and excellent device support, as well as top-notch customer support, privacy protections and global server coverage.
ExpressVPN’s average connection speeds continually come in at 80% or so of my ISP-provided speeds. This is particularly helpful when you’re working with the slower speeds found in Russia.
All in all, Russian users should still find the speeds up to the streaming provider’s bandwidth requirements.
Finding the fastest available VPN server will always be an asset no matter what your online activities, but it’s of particular value for video streaming. ExpressVPN’s app provides a built-in speed test to quickly test the speeds of the available VPN servers.
Netflix offers support for most modern connected devices, and so does ExpressVPN. The service offers native app support for iOS, Android, Windows, macOS and other popular platforms.
ExpressVPN’s USD $8.32-per-month (payable annually at $99.95) asking price is reasonable considering what you get in return. A $12.95 month-to-month subscription is also available. A 30-day money-back guarantee has you covered.
ExpressVPN customers who have any problems with the service, Netflix-related or otherwise, can contact customer support via their handy 24/7 live support chat option. Users can also take advantage of their trouble ticket system and searchable support library.
Global Server Coverage
Russian Netflix fans can use any of the provider’s 1,500+ servers – located in 94 countries – to access Netflix content, no matter where it originates.
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, which respect a user’s internet privacy. This means VPNs aren’t required to keep logs related to their customers’ online activities. ExpressVPN agrees with that idea, so there are no logs to be found.
Bitcoin is available as a subscription payment option, allowing users to protect their payment information from outsiders.
When the vodka isn’t working anymore, and you need a “Suits” fix (yes, it has gotten that desperate), ExpressVPN has you covered.
ExpressVPN is your best bet for reliable access to Netflix content in the U.S. or any other country. Swift connections, above-average global server coverage, great privacy protection, top-notch customer support and comprehensive multi-platform support all make ExpressVPN the only way to go.