[UPDATE: Statement from Netflix] Netflix App Currently Unavailable for Rooted/Unlocked Users
UPDATED 5:50PM CT: Netflix has confirmed to AndroidPolice that they are indeed blocking users who are rooted or have unlocked bootloaders from downloading the Play Store application. They mention their use of Google’s Widevine DRM, though the Play Store listing is seemingly blocked through the SafetyNet API as our testing showed. Their latest 5.0.4 release also seems to remain fully functional on rooted/unlocked devices when the application is downloaded from a third-party source, and then installed. Below is the full statement provided to AndroidPolice:
“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.”
In recent years, we’ve heard of more and more apps blocking rooted users, and even all users with unlocked bootloaders. Google’s SafetyNet services made such blocks widespread, with applications like Pokémon Go forbidding rooted users from playing, something which we’ve covered at the time.
With applications like Snapchat and Pokémon Go, one could make the argument that a custom ROM or root method would allow players or users to essentially transgress on the “spirit” of the game or service, such as saving snapchat pictures or capturing Pokémon miles away. Netflix has recently introduced offline downloads for multiple platforms, allowing users to download movies to watch them offline. While this was generally regarded as an excellent move, it could also be tangentially related to what we are seeing now: the latest version of Netflix has been made invisible for rooted users, as it will seemingly not appear on the Play Store if your device is unlocked.
I’ve tested this with two devices, one of them running an unlocked bootloader but an otherwise-stock, unrooted ROM, and a device with Magisk. Neither could find Netflix on the Play Store, even though I had the application installed. When enabling Magisk Hide, I would then be able to find the listing in one of my devices. So predictably, If you have Magisk and turn on Magisk Hide, you should be fine.
At the same time, we are seeing other reports from various users on reddit having compatibility issues seemingly unrelated to a rooted/unlocked device block. We don’t know whether this is a permanent, conscious decision by Netflix or whether it’s a mistake or issue that’ll be corrected. However, if you are having trouble downloading Netflix on your device, your setup might just be the problem.
Do you think this is a conscious decision by Netflix, or will this be fixed shortly? Sound off below!