Netflix says it ended AirPlay support to benefit customers

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75% of Netflix users have no plans to jump ship to Apple TV+ (right away)
You can still watch Netflix on your iPhone, but you can’t cast with AirPlay any more.
Photo: Stock Catalog/Flickr CC

Netflix has explained why it stopped supporting AirPlay video casting in its iOS app. The change is a result of the new TVs with built-in AirPlay support being released, and apparently not in retaliation for the recent announcement of Apple TV+, a rival streaming service.

An official statement from Netflix this weekend says:

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 versus 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.”

Previously, the company had only cited vague “technical limitations” as the reason,  leaving some to wonder if this change was to punish Apple for going into direct competition with Netflix.

You win some, you lose some

The “third-party devices” mentioned in Netflix’s statement are TVs from LG, Samsung, Sony and Visio that are coming on the market. They are part of efforts to expand the availability of AirPlay before the release of Apple TV+.

These developments mean iPhone and iPad users will be able to cast video to a range of TVs, not just Apple TV devices, but that also mean that this video won’t include Netflix.

Apple TV+ is a red herring

The timing of Netflix’s move to end support for AirPlay, coming as it did two weeks after Apple unveiled a rival streaming service, raised suspicions that Netflix was punishing a rival. Twitter was full of comments questioning the motive.

Especially as the two companies are already wrangling with each other. Netflix recently stopped allowing new customers to pay for their subscriptions through the App Store or iTunes. The change means it no longer has to give Apple 15 percent to 30 percent of reoccurring fees.

But apparently the end of Netflix’s AirPlay support is only indirectly related to the release of Apple TV+, not in retaliation.