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This article was published on May 15, 2017


Netflix is blocking rooted Android phones from downloading its app

Netflix is blocking rooted Android phones from downloading its app
Abhimanyu Ghoshal
Story by

Abhimanyu Ghoshal

Managing Editor

Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and culture. Hit him up on Twitter, or write in: [email protected].

If you’ve rooted your Android phone in order to gain access to more settings than the average user, you will no longer be able to grab Netflix’s app from Google Play, as the company is blocking downloads on such devices.

In a statement to Android Police, Netflix said:

With our latest 5.0 release, we now fully rely on the Widevine DRM provided by Google; therefore, many devices that are not Google-certified or have been altered will no longer work with our latest app and those users will no longer see the Netflix app in the Play Store.

While the decision to block downloads from the Play store might be tied to efforts to protect Netflix’s copyright material (it might be possible to break the DRM protection on downloaded Netflix videos), the implementation doesn’t quite make sense.

Android Police found that if you’ve got the app installed already or sideload it, the service works just fine. Plus, it appears that it’s not just rooted devices that are affected, but even those with unlocked bootloaders are being blocked from downloading Netflix.

That’s worrying, because this could lock out power users who simply want to be able to control how their phones work (and not pirate TV shows), and because your phone might come with an unlocked bootloader from the factory (like my Xiaomi Mi 5).

Clearly, this isn’t a clever move by Netflix – and it’s unclear as to whether the app will eventually stop working on such devices at some point in the future, leaving several users in the lurch.

Update: Netflix told TNW in a statement:

With our latest 5.0 release, we now fully rely on multimedia enablers provided by Google services; therefore, many devices that are not Google-certified or have been altered will no longer work with our latest app and those users will no longer see the Netflix app in the Play Store.

It’ll be interesting to see if other streaming content providers follow suit, and if hardware manufacturers change up their offerings to ensure that popular services like Netflix are available to customers.

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