Netflix confirms it killed AirPlay support, won’t let you beam shows to Apple TVs anymore

With no warning and little explanation, Netflix has removed the easiest way to sling its shows from one Apple device to another: AirPlay.

Netflix confirmed to The Verge that it pulled the wireless casting feature this past week, due to what it’s calling a “technical limitation.” But it’s not the kind of technical limitation you’d think.

You see, Apple recently partnered with most of the major TV brands to allow AirPlay 2 to send shows directly to their 2019 TV sets with a firmware update later this year, but a Netflix spokeperson tells me AirPlay 2 doesn’t have digital identifiers to let Netflix tell those TVs apart — and so the company can’t certify its users are getting the best Netflix experience when casting to those new sets.

So now, it’s throwing out the baby with the bathwater and pulling the plug on AirPlay, period. “We can’t distinguish which device is which, we can’t actually certify the devices... so we’ve had to just shut down support for it,” a Netflix spokesperson says.

To be clear, that means Apple TV set-top box users can no longer cast Netflix, either.

Here’s the company’s official statement:

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.

As spotted by MacRumors earlier today, the company’s official support page now includes this phrase: “Airplay is no longer supported for use with Netflix due to technical limitations.”

It’s a little weird and misleading, though, because we’re not talking about a situation where the technology doesn’t work — apparently it just doesn’t look quite as nice as Netflix wanted, and Netflix, Apple and the TV manufacturers can’t be bothered to fix it.

Maybe Netflix wasn’t prepared for a new wave of AirPlay 2-enabled TVs, and can’t justify spending the technical resources to upgrade its AirPlay implementation to support them properly. Maybe it’s Apple or Samsung, LG, Vizio and company who can’t justify the spend to fix the “limitation.” Maybe Netflix will even reinstate support after things get figured out, though a spokesperson strongly suggested to me that the ball is in Apple’s court now. Apple declined to comment.

Without a fuller explanation, it’s hard to resist thinking that Netflix is intentionally snubbing Apple for some reason, perhaps to build a wall around its subscribers, or perhaps to gain more negotiating leverage. (Netflix denies this: “It’s not a business competition play.”)

But both Apple and those TV manufacturers want to be able to use Netflix to sell fancy new AirPlay 2-enabled TVs to users, so it’s in their interests to make things work. Why aren’t they?

There is a strong potential reason for an Apple-Netflix spat: Netflix recently decided it wasn’t going to be part of Apple’s new TV Plus subscription video service, preferring to stay a competitor.

And it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a cold war between two companies who want control over streaming TV users — Amazon stopped stocking Google’s Chromecast for three years, using its own platform in an anti-competitive way, while it refined its own rival Fire TV products.

It’s true that most smart TVs already have Netflix built-in these days, and there’s no shortage of other ways to get that content on your TV screen. Unfortunately for Apple users, one of the most convenient ways is now winking out.

Comments

Time for Apple to add handoff to Apple TV (and maybe other TVs?). Not sure that’s possible.

That’s exactly what AirPlay does. If you AirPlay to an AppleTV, the AppleTV then carries on streaming the content without the phone.

Sounds like something the EU wouldn’t mind fining them for gobs of cash. They seem to be pretty good about consumer rights/eliminating "technical limitations".

Where is the law that states Netflix has to support ANY device with their service?

Back to pirating I guess

If it’s anti-competitive not to, they do. It’s kind of like a store that sells products to the public refusing to sell their products to a representative of another, competing store. That’s 100% illegal even in the United States, much less Europe that has a more restrictive view on stuff like this.

chromecast/hdmi/2nd screen methods are still officially supported methods of using it on iPhones though

It is not anti-competitive to decline to allow someone else’s proprietary IP to access your services.

Arbitrarily limiting a standard (yes it’s a standard, and yes a few non-iPhone phones support it actually) after previously supporting it is not going to go over well.

You act like Tesla hasn’t been forced to include a ccs adapter in their car overseas.

The EU has been great about making companies play nice together.

AirPlay is far away from being a standard like CCS is in Europe. CCS, just like the Europlug or Micro USB for smartphone charging, is a standard set in place by the European Union to standardise such power adaptors throughout the member states. AirPlay is just a proprietary protocol by Apple. Nobody can be forced to use it.

You seem to have misunderstood why the EU does what it does around technology.

If Apple users cared about arbitrary technical limitations they probably wouldn’t buy Apple products and certainly wouldn’t ask EU to help them.

100% this.

Apple users have been buying into limitations made on purpose for years, they praise an ecosystem which is totally based on that in the name of "good integration" and keep saying how everything works perfectly…why would Netflix be at fault for limiting their services when Apple makes it hard for them to distinguish which divice their content is being played on?

And keep in mind I’m Italian, I’ve got the Europe mindset, and even though I’m all for fairplay between tech giants thinking about punishing Netflix for something something Apple always did(limitations) is just stupid.

Here’s my question though, why does Netflix need to know at all what device I’m casting onto? The fact that I’m casting from my phone should be sufficient.

If I’m not mistaken, Netflix uses this data to automatically determine whether to stream at 4k or 1080. There is no manual user setting for this.

I’m a bit late but Johnny Socko already replied to you.

Netflix even checks which browser you’re playing its content on(if it’s Chrome, Firefox, Edge, wathever and also if that’s the desktop or mobile version and running on which OS) because every single scenario gives them different limitations in regards of how they can stream(bitrate, resolution and so on).

I know nowadays everyone’s concerned about companies spying on them or collecting their data, but sometimes they just need to know where you’re playing their content to offer you the best experience possible for something you pay for…and this is the case.

Learned that the "hard way" when I had an issue with the Netflix app on my computer and had to resort to watching it on the browsers…none of which could offer the full Netflix quality with the maximum bitrate I was used to(some have extensions to do it but they don’t work that well).

Absolutely not. There’s no law forcing Netflix to support Apple’s changes.

Absolutely not. There’s no law forcing Netflix to support Apple’s changes.

Except in the EU, if Netflix is a major and/or dominant streaming service (monopoly-ish), they are behooved to maintain their broad capabilities and not arbitrarily diminish supported devices… sort of like how Windows still provides app balloting (browsers) for new OS installations.

Isn’t there a Netflix App on Apple TV? Its not like you cant watch Netflix.

It’s worth noting that Apple’s implementation is impeding Netflix’s (and thus consumers’) ability to effectively consumer materials previously available in the marketplace (read: used to support until an unnecessary ‘technical limitation’ got in the way), so any EU complaints would be lodged against Apple… if Netflix simply filled-out the paperwork.

Except that Apple’s change is that they opened up AirPlay 2 support to more devices. Netflix is arbitrarily deciding this causes a technical issue for… reasons? Why does Netflix need to know the exact device I’m using to watch the service? They claim it’s for "quality of stream" reasons, but I call bullcrap on that. This is Netflix getting greedy for every scrap of data they can get about the people watching their service. They are making money off that info somehow, and Apple allowing more devices to use AirPlay without having the implementation report detailed info on the device being cast to is cutting into a revenue stream, not causing real technical problems.

You seem to have forgotten to add "and Netflix is a big, bad American corporation" in your tin foil hat conspiracy theory.
Originally, "AirPlay" meant a certain set of device specs which would allow streams to be media- and bandwidth-optimized (like not sending a 4K streams for a 720p device). But "AirPlay 2" now means more diverse variety of device specs but w/o clear indicators (tags) for the streaming platform to optimize for… or the optimal DRM scheme, either. All of this is included in the "[technical] quality of stream" argument Netflix is making public.
When you (Netflix) requires so much bandwidth to serve all your customers, and you have to do this smartly (financially responsible, non-wastefully) for both end-user experience (nobody wants a "Loading …" screen or constant video quality fluctuations) and daily expenses (how much of the internet is Netflix streaming data?! monthly data caps are how little?!) for Apple AirPlay users and non-users alike…….yeah, it’s in everyone’s best interest for a device- and bandwidth-optimized streaming service.

This is such crap. I use Netflix on my PS3, which is attached to my plasma TV (which should tell you how old it is). Netflix knows zero about my TV, yet manages to create a stream just fine. Whatever TV is attached to the streaming device is irrelevant—I’ll handle that on my end. Unless your app is so bad that you’re sending a 4k stream when I’ve requested a 1080p stream, this really isn’t relevant. They only need to know the specs of the streaming box, and anything else is a data-grab.

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