No need to be sneaky anymore, Netflix is officially live in South Africa! Head over to our blog on how to set up your Netflix account and free trial.

This is the first of several articles I intend to write to help you better utilize that wonder of technology, your ADSL line.

It may come as a surprise to some that even though line rentals are up, bandwidth prices have come down and the Internet has reached even the darkest corners of the country, there are people out there who don’t use their Internet for much more than email and chatting to their family and friends on Facebook.

The Internet is a beautiful and majestic beast, not without problems, but for the most part a wonderful and most certainly under-utilized resource. I intend to change that as best I can.

Thus I come to our first topic in this series: Netflix. In this post, I’m going to cover how to watch Netflix in South Africa.

Does this need a caption?

What is Netflix?

Netflix started out as an online movie rental company. They do not have stores you can walk in to and spend hours convincing your girlfriend to get Iron Man 3 instead of The Notebook or 100 Dresses or Notting Hill 4. Instead you could browse their selection online, place anorder for the movie you wanted and it would arrive in your mail box within 24 hours. Nice!

Not too long after business picked up, they started offering online streaming services, albeit their selection was somewhat limited to start off with. But over time they have struck billion dollar licensing agreements with the likes of Paramount, MGM, Universal and Sony Pictures amassing tens of thousands of feature films and award winning series.  Recently Netflix has achieved such successes like funding and producing their own original content like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

The situation

As of writing Netflix is available in 42 countries.

Map of Netflix coverage shown in red

South Africa, nay the whole of Africa is Netflixless. This is mostly due to licensing issues, a lack of interest in African markets and substandard local infrastructure. Long and short of it is we don’t have Netflix in SA, and with the Internet we as South Africans have at our disposal, there is no reason we should not be able to enjoy streaming media to its fullest.

Is it legal to watch Netflix in South Africa?

Its a bit of a grey area in South Africa and a bit beyond the scope of this article but essence you are in no danger using Netflix in South Africa, as long as you are actually paying for the subscription.

For further information here is an interesting article on the matter.

How do I get Netflix in South Africa?

Lets get started on the good stuff.

In essence to get Netflix outside of those lucky 42 countries, you need a way of removing their ability to tell where your request for content is originating. If you don’t come up as being from the correct country you get an error and your stream simply will not play.

Now this is where most astute people will be gnawing at the bit. You might recommend using a VPN. I don’t totally disagree. But a VPN is often slow and unreliable for such high bandwidth streams. Use a browser plugin you say? No again. How then do you intend getting it working on your PS3, Xbox, Android phone/tablet, iPad, iPod, iPhone, Chromecast and toaster?

We will be using something slightly different, and infinitely more useful: Unotelly.

Unotelly works sort of like a VPN. But instead of sending all your data over a VPN it intelligently knows which data it needs to mask as coming from another place and which data to pass on to Googles DNS servers and leave alone. This has the benefit of Unotelly only needing to deal with data that is important to your service. It is why they can provide such high upstream speeds to their users.

If you don’t feel like paying for Unotelly, there are some free solutions as well, like Unlocator, but it is in beta and not all that stable.

Steps:

  1. Signup for Unotelly
  2. Configure Unotelly
  3. Configure PC with Unotelly details so you can…
  4. Sign Up for Netflix
  5. Movies!

Before we begin please note that some steps require a credit card. If you are younger than 18, please ask your parents for permission and let them help you. Both services used in this tutorial offer free trials so there is no danger of spending money on something that might not work.

1. Signup for Unotelly

Sign up for the Unotelly 8 day trial.

Click the link to take you there.

Enter your name, email and password.

2 and 3. Configure Unotelly & PC

On the next page, make sure you select the button next to Netflix US. Then click the big Continue button. Pick your operating system of choice (Remember, you can’t view Netflix on linux) and follow the appropriate guide to configuring your PC with the correct DNS information. If you run windows then best choice is to use their UnoHelper application for now. In a later article I will show you a much more elegant way of automatically getting all devices working with Netflix.

Here is a link to their page showing all Unotelly servers globally. I highly recommend you pick the Cape Town server IP.

Next proceed here and sign in with the details you entered before.

Click Update IP Address. (Shown on left of  screen)

You have just finished configuring Unotelly.

Remember, every time your internet IP changes you will need to go back to the Unotelly webpage and Update your IP Address.

4. Signup for Netflix

Almost there. Now you need to get a Netflix account. If Unotelly is working, and your machine is configured correctly, you should be able to get to the Netflix Signup Page.

Everything here is pretty basic stuff. Go forth and create an account.

When it comes to entering your credit card details things are either really simple or somewhat more complicated. Netflix check the country of origin of the card you are trying to use. Depending on some factors I know nothing about it will either work, or not work. I had luck with my standard bank credit card, and my FNB cheque card.

If for some reason this doesn’t work for you there is hope. You can try sign up for an American paypal account (simplest) or you can get a virtual visa card with its domain in America, and you will be sorted.

If American Paypal is not your bag, try Entropay with some brief instructions below.

4.1 Entropay

Register for an Entropay account here.

You will then be asked how you will want to add funds to your card. There are a few steps in getting a credit card validated to be able to add money to your Entropay card, but they are pretty easy to follow. You might need a webcam if you want to use their pretty nifty OCR card validation tool. Make sure you are setting your card up for Dollars.

One important thing to do once done adding funds is click on Settings which should be on the right near the top. Under My Profile, make sure you have an American Postal Address, City/Town, Area Code and State.

For example my account details are

Box 1234

Barstow

CALIFORNIA

92310

Once all that is done go back to Netflix and enter in your new card details.

5. Movies!

And there you have it. Netflix movies and series streaming in glorious HD (if your line can handle it) in South Africa.

 

Tips

If you want to watch Netflix on your mobile devices you will need to set their DNS up manually as well. Unotelly have guides for all kinds of devices.

If for some reason you cannot get to the Netflix website to register you can use a Chrome Plugin called Hola Unblocker. This will actually allow you to stream movies without UnoDNS from Unotelly, but it is quite slow and you don’t have much hope of getting HD with it.

For all you capped guys out there, below are some details pertaining to bandwidth usage.

Movies HD: This stream sits at around 3.8Mbit, which means it’s about 3600MB for a 2 hour HD movie. (4Meg line minimum required.)
Movies SD: Comes to around 500-700MB a movie. (A 1meg line could cope but at a big drop in quality. 2Meg for better results)
Series HD: A 30-minute TV show will be about 1500MB. (Still a 4Meg minumum)
Series SD: A 30-minute TV show will be about 400MB. (Gonna need a 2Meg line to get any decent quality)

You can set your preferred streaming level in the Netflix account panel. Their SD stream quality is outstanding so don’t feel bad if you can’t get HD.

If I have missed a step or you find a better way to do something, hit me up on my twitter or leave a comment. Enjoy the movies.

Disclosure: I don’t work for Netflix, Entropay or Unotelly. This article was written freelance in my own personal capacity.