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

  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???

  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. ;)

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