As Android Police reported earlier Saturday, Netflix started showing up as “incompatible” on devices that are rooted and unrooted devices with unlocked bootloaders. In fact, it’s even showing as incompatible on my LeEco LeMax 2 which is running stock unrooted and has the bootloader locked. This is because Netflix is blocking devices that are considered unsecured by Google’s Widevine DRM (Digital Rights Management) and SafetyNet technologies. When Android Police followed up with Netflix earlier as to why such devices were being blocked they got the following response:
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 case you’re wondering why this is just now happening after years of Netflix not even bothering to check for root or unlocked bootloaders, it might be in reaction to the recent posting of some of their original content online by hackers. Granted, this breach appears to have nothing to do with rooted Android phones (and Netflix might have already had this in development before the attack took place), but it’s things like this that make content owners and businesses in general pay closer attention to security across the board. These breaches are also why we can expect more and more apps to block rooted and bootloader-unlocked devices (and devices running custom ROMs) from accessing their content. For the time being, rooted devices using Magisk are unaffected, but I imagine Google will soon find a way to use Widevine and SafetyNet to detect and block even those devices.
For now, if you already have Netflix installed on a rooted device or one with an unlocked bootloader (or a device like mine that somehow still trips SafetyNet), the app will still run, at least until Netflix and/or Google find a way to patch that hole as well.