Netflix kills AirPlay support, because reasons

Netflix has already made it clear it wants nothing to do with Apple's one-stop viewing spot or the upcoming Channels feature where people can subscribe to additional services from within the same interface as Apple's own, also upcoming, TV+. But, now, Netflix also seems to want no more part of Apple's AirPlay content beaming feature either. Which is especially odd given Netflix has supported it until, well, today.

Via MacRumors:

We want to make sure our members have a great Netflix experience on any device they use. With AirPlay support rolling out to third-party devices, there isn't a way for us to distinguish between devices (what is an Apple TV vs. what isn't) or certify these experiences. Therefore, we have decided to discontinue Netflix AirPlay support to ensure our standard of quality for viewing is being met. Members can continue to access Netflix on the built-in app across Apple TV and other devices.

Nilay Patel, on Twitter:

Gruber, writing at Daring Fireball:

I don't really blame them for calling it a "technical limitation", but it's a bit frustrating that they're throwing out something that already works and has worked for years. And it makes it sound like it's something they can't do, rather than the truth, which is that they've chosen not to.

Either way, it's a shame. While most devices have Netflix either built-in or easily downloadable now, if you're visiting a friend or family member who has an Apple TV or TV set with AirPlay built-in, simply being able to stream from your account, without having to get them to subscribe or having to log yourself in, is way more convenient.

Or, at least it was.

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Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Pretty incredible of Netflix to shoot themselves in the foot like this. I've heard of people using older AppleTVs with AirPlay to watch Netflix, now they can't? I guess you can expect anything from a company that axed the Marvel series while they were quite popular. Oh bother.
  • As a result of this, more people will move to another service, or just simply pirate the tv shows/movies. Not to mention Netflix blocking VPNs and charging an increased price for HD/4K content. Honestly I hope Apple's service does well, I think all this **** Netflix is doing is going to help Apple a lot.
  • "I guess you can expect anything from a company that axed the Marvel series while they were quite popular." <rude comment removed>
  • Bye bye, Netflix....
  • Yes - throwing away something that already works and has worked for years. So as of today I can't stream from iPhone to Apple TV anymore when my wired internet service goes down (as it did this week) because my carrier doesn't allow personal hotspot, and Netflix won't allow AirPlay? And the excuse is that they are killing it because they don't want you to stream from an iPhone to any AirPlay devices that aren't Apple TV? Seriously? A bizarre and illogical reason that I'm sure has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Apple just held a huge press event to promote its upcoming streaming TV service. Nothing at all. Of course Apple's TV streaming service will have no problem streaming to any device that supports AirPlay, right? ;-/
  • I read it as "We can't identify the device, so you may not get 4k HDR/Dolby AirPlaying, so we don't want to do it anymore". That makes some sense imho.
  • Surely they can just disable 4K HDR/Dolby when AirPlaying, and work with Apple instead of against them to figure out a way to detect whether 4K HDR/Dolby is supported.
  • My Apple TV 3rd gen can't display 4K but I still want Netflix streaming.
  • Exactly, it's just Netflix being anti-competitive
  • Reading between the lines, I am suspecting that Netflix (or rather Hollywood) is worried about copy protection, since non-Apple AirPlay devices might not comply with Netflix's copy protection policies. It looks like Netflix wants the power to unilaterally ban non-compliant devices without having to convince Apple to revoke that device's AirPlay keys, and Apple doesn't want to give them that power, perhaps because they think that any licensed AirPlay device should work with all content. This seems like a business dispute between Apple and Netflix, but if copy protection is the root issue then we may see AirPlay ripped out of other streaming apps such as Hulu, Amazon Video, etc..
  • I think Netflix is saying they want to stream 4k HDR/Dolby when applicable, but they don't know if they can do that when Netflix is Airplay-ed.
  • Then they can just stream it without 4K HDR/Dolby when AirPlay is used, so long as the limitation is made known.
  • Is that possible if the device isn't divulging its ID?
  • The problem is that without the ID, Netflix may try to stream HDR/Dolby content to a TV which doesn't support it, which may stop AirPlay working, or display the image incorrectly. All TVs support non-HDR or non-Dolby content as they're backwards compatible, so streaming AirPlay content without it is fine
  • Obviously not a huge deal by itself but killing airplay support is symptomatic of Netflix’s attitude toward customers at this point. They have features you can’t turn off, notably the autoplay of trailers while browsing content. They also won’t allow post credits to play for more than 10 seconds or so without firing off another trailer. Annoys me greatly. And they essentially don’t accept customer feedback. I’ve enjoyed their service for years and, as a cord cutter, considered them indispensable but I’m finally starting to change my mind. They have some good original content but, compared to HBO, it’s nothing. With so many new streaming services coming out, you’d think they’d be more flexible. They just announced another price increase this week. I’m just one bad day away from cancelling.
  • Netflix is much like Facebook when it comes to its customers. They have such a large userbase that it doesn't matter if they provide a **** service. The Facebook website is a mess, the app is a mess, and they certainly don't listen to user feedback either, but as long as it appears to work then people will continue using it. The same goes with Netflix, Netflix introduce whatever **** they want, but in general people won't start caring until it starts interrupting their shows.
  • "With AirPlay support rolling out to third-party devices, there isn't a way for us to distinguish between devices (what is an Apple TV vs. what isn't) or certify these experiences." - as in "Airplay won't let us figure out if we need to do 4k/HDR/DolbyVision/Atmos so we don't want to do it as more and more people have 4k/HDR/DolbyVision/Atmos". I still think the thing Netflix needs to kill is autoplaying videos anywhere on the site. I don't want a preview playing ever for the rest of time, yet they force it. The reason I used Airplay was to avoid this BS. Looks like I'll have to find another workaround. All I really want is one row of "recently watched" and a search option to the far left.
  • When you say "anywhere on the site", are you referring to the website version (as opposed to TV apps)? If so, then there are ways to block it, and in fact Firefox will actually now block any autoplaying videos by default. If you're not using Firefox, you'll want to find a browser addon that blocks autoplaying videos
  • Netflix has always been about having the experience be as friction-free as possible. DVD rentals are hassle-free: keep the DVD as long as you want. Line up the UPC barcode for faster returns, but no problem if you don't do that. With the streaming service, make it easy to stream -- and indirectly stream -- your feed to as many devices as possible. Now, Netflix is actively adding friction to the viewing process. It will be harder for travelers to access Netflix on the road, and subscribers are in danger of accidentally leaving their credentials on hotel set top boxes, etc. The lowest "standard of quality" is providing no means of streaming to a device. Now that Netflix is gumming up their service, the time has come to seek alternatives. I'm thinking of having a streaming "Service du Mois" -- and re-evaluating my subscription needs on a month-by-month basis. That's *my* way of maintaining my "standard of quality" for my streaming needs. Netflix: whatever VP made this decision needs to be fired.
  • Funny when apple does something to "optimize" the experience, you cheer it on as looking out for the customer, yet when Netflix does the same thing you try to call them out. Typical Rene...
  • Presumably Netflix is mainly interested in optimizing the DRM since they readily support low-bitrate, highly compressed, barely 1080p, non-HDR, non-Dolby (etc.) streaming.
  • Nothing is being optimised here. It's just Netflix being unhappy that Apple are doing their own TV service, bit coincidential timing don't you think?
  • Are you ******* serious? This isn't optimising the experience, this is anti-competitve practice