Netflix has confirmed that it no longer supports AirPlay, citing “technical limitations” with Apple’s video-slinging feature. The reasoning isn’t exactly about technical limitations that prevent Netflix from supporting the feature at all, though. Rather, Netflix has either chosen not to support it because the company can’t control the user experience the way it wants to or because of bigger issues of competition and collaboration between the two companies.
AirPlay is a feature in Apple devices (and now in some third-party devices from partners like LG and Samsung) that allows streaming audio or video from one gadget to another over the local network. A few days ago, users began noticing that they could no longer use AirPlay in the iOS Netflix app, and MacRumors discovered that a support document on Netflix’s website had been updated to say, “Airplay is no longer supported for use with Netflix due to technical limitations.”
Netflix soon elaborated with an official statement to certain press outlets covering the story. Here’s the 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.”
Starting at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in January, major TV-makers announced support for AirPlay, whereas users could previously typically only stream content to their TVs via AirPlay by using an Apple TV set-top box or plugging another Apple device into the TV via the HDMI port. (Some third-party devices did already support AirPlay, though—for example, the Sonos One.)
The way Apple has implemented AirPlay, Netflix does not have access to information about the device to which a user is streaming. It could be an Apple-made streaming box, or it could be a Samsung TV, among other things. Netflix is arguing that not having this information means it can’t certify the target device to ensure a quality experience.