Netflix Kills AirPlay Support

Posted on April 8, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, Music + Videos with 21 Comments

Netflix recently killed support for Apple’s AirPlay streaming technology in its iOS app. But there’s no conspiracy here, Netflix says: The firm didn’t drop AirPlay over some dispute with Apple about its coming TV+ service as many in the Apple community alleged.

“Airplay is no longer supported for use with Netflix on iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch due to technical limitations,” a Netflix statement vaguely explained on a support page on the firm’s help site. The note was tied to a recent app update that dropped AirPlay support.

And it would spawn dozens of conspiracy theories, most tied to the fact that Apple recently announced a coming TV service called TV+ that will compete directly with Netflix. Furthermore, Apple is bringing its AirPlay streaming functionality—which is like Google’s Chromcast/Google Cast but for Apple devices—to a range of third-party smart TVs, which will help spread usage of the TV+ service.

But it’s not making this change to hurt Apple, Netflix says. There’s no conspiracy.

“We want to make sure our members have a great Netflix experience on any device they use,” a Netflix statement explains. “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.”

Presumably, Apple will find a way to correctly identify AirPlay-compatible devices, and thus their capabilities (HDR support, and so on). And that, should this happen, Netflix could simply reinstate AirPlay support. Plus, Netflix still supports Chromecast on iOS, so you can use that technology with a compatible Smart TV or set-top box if you prefer streaming from your device for some reason.

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Comments (21)

21 responses to “Netflix Kills AirPlay Support”

  1. jcbeckman

    The reason this sounds so bogus is that if a device is AirPlay certified, why does Netflix care? It doesn't make any sense. But by the same token, it's also pretty irrelevant, as if it's a Smart TV with AirPlay it probably has a Netflix app (although it's probably awful as it seems most Smart TV apps are, at least the ones I've used).

    • Ben Lee

      In reply to jcbeckman:

      It does make sense. When Netflix can stream anything from 480p mono to 2160p HDR 8.1 surround. it really needs to know where the stream is being displayed to send the correct content.As Apple isn't passing on that information Netflix simply can't decide on the stream to send.

      • jcbeckman

        In reply to Ben Lee:

        If that's true, then how can it work with different versions of the AppleTV? They have different capabilities. And it also depends on the display they are hooked up to. So the AirPlay spec must send back some sort of info already.

  2. Patrick3D

    My guess is that "certify" = charge a TV manufacturer money. The answer to any question involving a corporate decision is always money.

  3. puggsly

    What sucks about this is two fold!

    1) It is a complete lie! You have to go out of your way to disable AirPlay because it is available at the device level without app support. Mirror your phone to the TV and presto, you just have to support standard output resolutions of your video.

    2) It makes an expected function not function. I always expect to be able to send anything on my phone or iPad to the AppleTV so if we are watching a show and a reference to another show comes up that my wife or kids don't get, I can jump on my phone, find the clip and play it up to the TV for them. When I'm done Netflix, HULU, etc.. continues where it was.

    I don't understand what Netflix thinks it gets out of this except to have it's App not function properly with the hope that users will blame Apple and not them. This mirrors how they treat the TV app, where everything but their content is tracked and able to be resumed through the TV App. I have to assume they think this breaks the TV app enough to cause people to not use it and I'm guessing it has slowed adoption, but more and more I'm getting content from services that do support it so it is becoming my goto and Netflix content is surfaced less often. Which over time is making Netflix less relevant.

    As long as you are the dominate player, you can get away with inconveniencing your users (Apple does it some times too), but if you slip just enough you can get into big trouble really fast. I just don't see enough of a win here that they should risk it.

  4. jgraebner

    Most likely AirPlay for Netflix is very rarely used, since AirPlay compatible devices almost inevitably have a native Netflix application. My guess is that Neflix saw a good opportunity to throw a reliability accusation at Apple right as they are ramping up efforts to compete more directly, but with minimal impact on their own customers.

  5. lvthunder

    Why is it any of Netflix's business what certified AirPlay device I'm casting to? All these companies want to do these days is see how much information about us they can get. I'm getting tired of it.

  6. dontbe evil

    that's what apple deserve, fight back with apple own style

    • lvthunder

      In reply to dontbe_evil:

      How does this hurt Apple? It doesn't. If I used this feature I would tend to change services to a service that supported the feature I want to use. In my mind it hurts Netflix and its customers most.

      • jgraebner

        In reply to lvthunder:

        It probably does hurt Apple a bit since it suggests a reliability problem with AirPlay, but I also doubt that anyone at Apple is in a major panic over it. I doubt it hurts Netflix much, since it is probably hard to find an AirPlay device that doesn't have a native Netflix app.

      • skane2600

        In reply to lvthunder:

        I don't know if this really hurts Apple, but I think for most people it's the content of a streaming service that is the key to adoption, not whether it's compatible with every possible device.

      • BrianEricFord

        In reply to lvthunder:

        You’re wasting your time: This person exists only to troll.

  7. Stooks

    Can I just state the obvious?

    If you were "Airplaying" from your phone to an Apple TV to play Netflix, which until very, very, very recently was the only AirPlay target device for such setup......why not just run the Netflix App on the Apple TV???

    • BrianEricFord

      In reply to Stooks:

      This isn’t about Apple TV. It’s about 3rd-party TVs that now support AirPlay streaming. (Yes, those all likely have Netflix on them, but built-in apps often suck.)

      With that said, this explanation is almost certainly technically true, but that doesn’t mean I buy Netflix’s explanation that that’s all that went into the decision.

      • Stooks

        In reply to BrianEricFord:

        Yes those TV's that you could pre-order back in Feburary and may have one now??? The point is until those TV's you could ONLY Airplay using a Apple TV which has Netflix on it.

        Also looking at the TV models that do have Airplay 2, most are high end, meaning faster CPU so the built in apps are better, as in do not suck. Most built in apps suck from speed issues or lack of updates but that is usually on low end models.

        • BrianEricFord

          In reply to Stooks:

          No, they suck due to poor interface design (it’s an interfarce?) both inside the app and also from the overall TV interface before you ever get into the app.

          But the main point is that this decision to nix AirPlay support is (allegedly) all about 3rd party TVs, so your question didn’t make a lot of sense in the context of the decision at hand.

    • JohannesFranz

      In reply to Stooks:

      Incorrect. You could watch the movie on your phone or tablet and AirPlay audio to a compatible speaker.

  8. sevenacids

    Wow, so every educated guess and critic is tagged a conspiracy theory nowadays? Well, brave new world then. Third-party devices is the keyword, Netflix just cannot ensure DRM there so they simply pulled the plug. No conspiracy, only profit-licensing-angst. ;)