Netflix has removed support for Apple's AirPlay system. The company explains that AirPlay 2 does not allow it to identify the playback device, thus preventing it from certifying devices. But something doesn't add up.
Affects AirPlay TVs & Apple TV
Last week, Netflix abruptly removed support for AirPlay that has been supported in the iOS app since 2013. This means that it is no longer possible to beam movies and TV shows from the Netflix app on your iPhone/iPad to Apple TV.
Apple has yet to comment on the matter but Netflix explains that it has to do with the AirPlay 2 system not letting them identify or certify devices.
- "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," Netflix said in a statement.
Up until now AirPlay video has been supported only in Apple TV so it has been easy for Netflix to supervise. Later this year, AirPlay 2 will be supported in TVs from LG, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio. Apple has confirmed that it does not allow TV manufacturers to collect usage data from AirPlay 2 and apparently that extends to AirPlay not identifying the specific device to content partners.
Something doesn't add up
All devices that carry the Netflix app must be certified by the company. However, those requirements have not extended to Chromecast-compatible devices in the past. For example, Android TV-based set-up boxes that have yet to be certified still support Netflix via Chromecast. So why would it apply to AirPlay?
Something doesn't add up here.
The relationship between Apple and Netflix is showing signs of frailty as Apple prepares to enter the streaming video market. Netflix has refused to participate in Apple's 'TV' app and has stopped selling subscriptions directly through the App Store. Netflix's interactive shows do not work on Apple TV either.
We see this as the latest development in that battle and we believe that pulling support for AirPlay is actually part of a bigger picture, specifically Siri and upcoming AirPlay-compatible TVs. With iOS / tvOS 12.2, you can ask Siri on your iPhone or iPad to "Play House of Cards on the TV". You do not have to specify that House of Cards is a Netflix show.
Those same Siri-to-TV features will be supported on upcoming AirPlay-enabled TVs from LG, Sony, Samsung and Vizio. With such capabilities, some users may be less inclined to open the Netflix app on the TV and as such Netflix losses control and user data.
By disabling AirPlay and by not participating in Apple's 'TV' app, the company can prevent you from using Apple's systems to access Netflix on AirPlay-compatible TVs. You will simply have to open the Netflix app instead.
Apple and Netflix both want to be TV. One has an ecosystem of over 1 billion users, while the other is the world's leading streaming service. The next few years should be interesting.