Netflix service has been cancelled for millions of Android phones, which have been unlocked.
This could affect millions of Netflix subscribers who have rooted their Android devices and prevent them from accessing the video streaming Netflix service.
A report in androidpolice states that since the recent v5.0 version of Netflix application depends completely on Widevine DRM, which is offered by Google, the app will not work on several devices that have not been certified by Google or which have been unlocked, rooted or altered in any way.
Many users of Android devices, with rooted or unblocked phones and devices, have reported that the installed Netflix app is working for now, but it is mentioned as incompatible with their devices, when they look it up in the Google PlayStore. The block of the Netflix app on these devices is due to the Widevine digital right system of Google.
However, what is strange is that the v5.0.5 version of the Netflix app is still working well on all devices as of now. The download of the app from the Google PlayStore, however, has been blocked claiming that it is incompatible with the rooted or unlocked Android devices. However, it is also likely that the Netflix app on these devices, the rooted or unblocked ones, might suddenly stop working as the Netflix effects the change in status.
It does not make sense that users of an unlocked or rooted Android device are not able to download Netflix from Google Play, but if they have already installed the app, they can still use it. Hence, it can be concluded that Netflix did not go all the way in blocking such devices.
Rooting or unlocking of Android phones and devices is quite common with users, as they want to avail a new software version as soon as it is released, without waiting for the OTA release. Others might root or unlock their devices for deleting some software that is built in the device. For instance, some users might want to remove the Samsung TouchWiz apps, which can only be done by rooting or unlocking the phone.
More than 25% of Android device users unlock or root their devices, so millions of users could be affected by the new status of Netflix.
Protection against Piracy
Netflix’s argument for the new status could be that the company wants to protect itself from pirated content. Pirating its content has become very easy now, as Netflix allows downloading of a show to your mobile device, instead of merely streaming it. It is also possible that Netflix wants the service to run on a steady Android platform, so that it has better control on the user experience.
Ban on Devices
The implementation of the blocking of Netflix app on these rooted or unlocked Android devices has not been done very rationally either. According to Android Police, the Widevine DRM has not been used for verifying the rooted status of the device. Netflix has made use of the SafetyNet that is more limiting, whereas if they had used Widevine DRM, it would have categorized rooted or unlocked phones in the secure one.