Netflix Confirms Crackdown On Rooted Android Devices
In an attempt to keep pirates at bay, Netflix is no longer letting users with rooted Android devices board its app from Google Play. The policy extends to unlocked handsets, as well. Interestingly, the app itself continues to work fine if it is already installed, which led some people to think that Netflix and/or Google had accidentally made it invisible on Google Play. This not the case.
"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," Netflix said in a statement.
Widevine is a multi-platform digital rights management scheme that works on various desktop and mobile systems. Netflix leans on Widevine to protect its content from running on unauthorized devices. That includes rooted Android hardware in which users have full administrative rights to the OS. Apparently Netflix fears that users with rooted phones and tablets will download content from Netflix and strip away copy protections.
This will not be a popular decision by owners of rooted handsets. On top of that, Android Police believes the Play Store listing is tied to a devices' SafetyNet status, which is used by Android Pay, and not just Widevine. The site points out that Artem's bootloader-unlocked stock Pixel passes Widevine's security checks, but fails SafetyNet because it is unlocked.
Netflix only recently started supporting the ability to download content for offline viewing, and that is undoubtedly a big reason why it is doing this. The good news for owners affected by this is that the Netflix app still seems to work, it just needs to be sideloaded since it is not visible on Google Play. That is a pretty easy thing to do and well within the skill-set of anyone who has figured out how to root their device.