Netflix on Apple TV throwing up the dreaded 'An error occurred loading this content'? Here's how to fix it!

Netflix on Apple TV throwing up the dreaded 'An error occurred loading this content'? Here's how to fix it!

You grab a snack and a tasty beverage, crash down onto your sofa, pick up the Apple TV remote, cue Netflix, hit play, and... get the horrible 'An error occurred loading this content. Try again later." message. You do, and... same error. Again, and again. You snack turns soggy, your beverage goes flat, and Netflix still gives you nothing but errors and frustration. That was me. Tonight. Until I remembered that a restart fixes just about everything!

  1. Press the Menu button until you're at the top level (the screen with all the channel icons).
  2. Navigate over to Settings on the top left and click the Enter button.
  3. Click on General.
  4. Click on Restart.

Or, if you're using the actual Apple TV hardware remote (rather than the iOS Remote app), simply hold down the Menu and Play/Pause button until it restarts.

Once your Apple TV reboots to the Home screen, go back into Netflix, choose your show, and you should be good to go. Yes, the solution is sub-optimal. Having to reboot, especially if it happens frequently, is super annoying. It would be better if, after the error occurs, Apple TV would automatically kill and cycle the app/connection. But, this works for now. (If only the lack of Netflix content outside the U.S. were so easily fixed!)

If you get the content loading error, especially if you get it frequently, let me know how often, and let me know if this fix — or a better one! — works for you!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 46 comments. Add yours.

mangoldm says:

I get this on my iPhone and iPad when connected to my home wifi, but not when I am using cellular data. Drives me nuts.

Rene Ritchie says:

I haven't had it happen on iPad Air, but I'm almost always on Wi-Fi with that. (SIM card is in my mini, which I don't use for Netflix)

Bonzaibeck says:

Or you can hold the menu and play/pause buttons until it reboots.

Rene Ritchie says:

Yes, good point! Added! Thanks!

thevacantsoul says:

Holy crap! Thanks for the tip!

Becjr says:

I've had to reboot for reasons like this before, but have always done so by drilling through too many menus...
This tip is GOLD!!
Thank you.

Sent from the iMore App

applejosh says:

It seems like every 2-3 times I actually watch Netflix, I get this error. Yes, reboot usually fixes it, but as you say, a pain in the neck.

Dev from tipb says:

FWIW, I get similar sporadic errors like this using the Netflix app on my Sony TV - so this problem (or at least these symptoms) are not unique to the Apple TV.

Rene Ritchie says:

Good to know. I have it on my TV and Blu-Ray player as well but never use it because, no software UI programming talent :(

eahinrichsen says:

I've gotten it on Android via Chromecast a couple of times. Rebooting the phone has always resolved the issue.

Posted via the Android iMore App!

Dev from tipb says:

The only netflix device I have *not* seen it on is our PS3, which is our go-to Netflix device mainly for the next episode feature - great for binging on shows.

Rene Ritchie says:

The lack of a next-episode feature on Apple TV is maddening.

Randy b says:

Yes this makes me mad it's on the iPad PS3 this is y I done watch Netflix on my Apple TV

peterjmorgan says:

The PS3 Netflix app is the business. It alone gives my PS3 reason to live alongside my Sky box; otherwise I fear it would be at the bottom of the wardrobe in the spare room, along with the leftover wrapping paper and snowboard boots.

tool022611 says:

Happens all the time on both my apple TVs. I get the dreaded cannot connect to itunes error too. The reboot fixes both of these, but it would be nice for an update to fix this problem. Seems to happen more after those few updates a couple months back.

Sent from the iMore App says:

The "can't connect to itunes" error is so damn frustrating sometimes. Pisses me off that my videos are in the cloud, but I can't get to them..

jamieza says:

Thanks! Been having this problem all weekend

davecotter says:

Does TunnelBear not work for netflix when you're out of the country?

andi2b says:

The lack of content outside the US is quite easily fixed with UnblockUS. Switching regions on my iPhone is really handy!

Sent from the iMore App

Rene Ritchie says:

That fixes it for an individual, not a country :)

moroboshi says:

I don't have an ATV as they're next to useless here in the UK, but it strikes me that problems like this would be so much easier to fix if ATV apps were handled like regular iOS apps. Netflix for iPhone/iPad is updated often, because Netflix writes the app and publishes the app directly. The ATV lives in this weird walled garden world which Apple controls, for reasons nobody has ever understood.

I'd love an Apple TV with an app store, but until it gets one, it remains Apple's weirdest and most US centric product.

Rene Ritchie says:

Developers can write against Apple TV, they just have to be very special partners to do so. 9to5Mac detailed how Bloomberg happened:

SockRolid says:

"It would be better if, after the error occurs, Apple TV would automatically kill and cycle the app/connection."

Sure, but Apple TV doesn't run apps the way other iOS devices do. The Apple TV UI is an app itself, so it needs to do some pretty weird things to make it look like it's running other apps (like Netflix.) I sat in on the Apple TV programming/hacking session at #AltWWDC, and because of NDA restrictions let's just say that it's not nearly as easy or as robust as normal iOS app development.

At least not yet. And if it doesn't change, I doubt Apple will ever allow more than a select few media giants to write "apps" for Apple TV.

iSRS says:

Does seem to be a Netflix issue. Never have it on any of the other apps (hulu plus, watch ABC, ESPN, Disney, etc).

They are also the only one where the streaming quality is all over the place.

Keeping my fingers crossed (not tightly, and safer than holding my breath) for an Amazon Instant app.

Sent from the iMore App

donawalt says:

It is not just a Netflix issue. If you Google it, it happens with other content providers. It happens some on Netflix for us, but at our house we watch ABC a lot through their app, plus from their web site, and it happens enough it's not really watchable - we have moved back to a Windows laptop for ABC which works flawlessly. This happens at two households in our family too, both with excellent WiFi signal and speeds.

Some sources say it's a problem in HDMI handshaking.

Whatever it is, Apple needs to fix this. Restarting a device regularly is no solution. Right now Apple TV is way too unreliable to be useful to a large non-technical population.

cardfan says:

This usually works for me. There's not much else you can do though. But the first rule is usually reboot or turn off, turn on.

Apple TV shines for me in streaming movies added to iTunes. It shines because it works so well. However I wish there was a search feature or more than just genre to sort by.

The ui could be so much better. Forget silly watches. This is where apple needs to focus.

Rene Ritchie says:

Yes, Spotlight can't come fast enough to Apple TV

iDisturbia says:

I cannot remember the last time I saw that error.

Using the latest firmware on 2 Apple TVs here, both appear to automatically kill and cycle the app/connection! Hmmm....

iHeartPowder says:

I get this all the time. Another option is selecting "sleep now" from the General menu. It's faster than a restart and usually fixes the issue for me. FWIW, I live overseas and "fixing" my location with a VPN is way easier than dealing with this Netflix bug.

Adam Vazquez1 says:

It looks like a DNS resolution problem. It also pops up on the sony DMP 100-200 media players. The sony boxen give the error 2x then reloads via DNS. use Clear with OpenDNS.

asuperstarr says:

Thanks for the tip on how to solve this problem. I always thought it was my internet connection. Great tip!

Sent from the iMore App


Great tip. Thank You! I've just been unplugging it when that happens, hope that I haven't damaged My Apple TV by doing so??? :-S

Smohn says:

Hello, this is not unique to Apple devices, my Samsung Blu-Ray has been having the same issue (simultaneously with the ATV) I failed on the Samsung , then tried the ATV, the called it up on the IPad and was able to transfer to my TV from it. I was starting to think it was a comcast issue. Netflix has been loading slowly for a couple weeks and picture quality can change while the movie is playing . Frustrating.

tttc24 says:

Great tip! I haven't used Netflix in awhile but decided to do so today, I got the error message but remembered seeing this tip so thanks for the info.

TrophyTammy says:

Thank you! My husband will think I'm a miracle worker. I'll just agree and take the credit. ;)

George Pratt1 says:

It might be your router. My ISP provides a DSL Modem-router that's mandatory, but they bought their entire stock of them from "Fast Ivan" in some back bazaar in Moscow.

It's a piece of Scheisse and needs to be re-started at least weekly. Once I restart the modem-router, all is well, don't even have to restart the apple box.

TJ Mahoney says:

Get same error on other services as well. RESTART doesn't fix it. JUst started getting this error recently too. I have the option of using WiFi directly from a CLEAR MODEM or from a LINKSYS ROUTER. Both connections give same result. Also unable to download software update. Signal strength is good. I am able to start some shows, but they seem to stop and go in places. FRustrated, did not have this problem when I first bought APPLE TV. No hardware changes my end.

Fernando Gomez Carchak says:

Thanks! It's working for me in Argentina!

Ali Jawad1 says:

What is Verizon expecting, bandwidth speeds and device support for streaming sites is increasing by the day, online streaming is to become the norm, if anything cable will die, I am using a VPN fix to jump over the thorttling fences of Verizon, see

sayed_hassan says:

This is not only in Netflix, but also in YouTube, and it happens too much, and the solution you suggest not helping.

Posted via the Android iMore App!

ashleyt909 says:

I wish this solved the problem. I've done this many times, and have also tried unplugging it, restarting my internet router, and just waiting. Nothing works. I can't even make it through one minute of a show before it freezes, goes blank, and then says the loading error message. Also constantly shuts off the iTunes Radio. I don't even bother turning on a station anymore because it's completely pointless.

Mummy Llama says:

Thank you! House of Cards is on!

seasidepost says:

Well so far so good on a few 1/2 hour shows..I'll try a movie and see what happens. For a long time everything was great than about two weeks ago almost every show was stopping 2-4 times with error message..Thanks will let you know if it fixs it..

Daniel Walker4 says:

This solution worked like a charm. Two days with errors and this resolved my issue. I registered just to say thank you!

Imtiaz Ahmed H E says:

Hi Rene Ritchie,

I have an iPad Air with 11 movies purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Store. I have tranferred these purcjases to my iTunes on Win PC 8.1 u 1. My ISP is India's AirTel - I'm in Bangalore - providing 4G services distributed around my house using the AirTel provided '4G router (uses a 4G data SIM card)' with WiFi and LAN ports. One of the LAN ports is connected to a Time Capsule in another room which provides wired connectivity to my AppleTV, SonyTV set etc. When I try to play the PC iTunes library movies from my Apple TV I get the error "An error occurred loading this content. Try again later'. Apple Customer Care India has given up on my problem. An Apple authorized service provider in Bangalore brought a new AppleTV piece and tried it with the same result. This new Apple TV had an older version of software installed on it. And I continue to use my original 3rd gen Apple TV which incidentally I purchased only some months back.. Could you help out. Incidentally once, only once, I could start playing a movie (actually I 'resumed' it) and then stopped it. Tried again and it was back to failure forever. I have another PC (running Win XP) with iTunes installed and the same purchases transferred onto it too. I am able to play the movies from this computer's library on my Apple TV! I have tried all the 'suggestions' I found in Google searches like changing the SD/HD setting, the Dolby audio setting, restarting, resetting, restoring etc to no avail. Do help! India, or at least that represented by Apple authorities here, has openly washed its hands off the problem saying 'we have tried all the troubleshooting steps, now we cannot help you.'! Btw, for what it may be worth, my Apple Customer Care case id for this issue is 620080095!

Also, the XP PC also uses the same AirTel 4G router as its internet source (again, wired) and as I said the router is connected to the Time Capsule wired to my AppleTV etc.