For rooted and unlocked Android devices, Netflix started showing up as ‘incompatible’ on the Play Store. However, the app itself continued to work fine, that leading us to think it could have been an accident. However, Netflix has now confirmed to us that blocking modified devices from downloading the app was intentional.
This is the full statement:
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.
If you’re not familiar with it, Widevine is a Google-made DRM technology that works across various desktop and mobile platforms. Widevine categorizes devices into three security levels, ranging from all processes running in the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) to not running anything in TEE at all.
However, the Play Store listing seems tied to a device’s SaftetyNet status (which is used by Android Pay), rather than the Widevine TEE. For example, Artem’s bootloader-unlocked stock Pixel is still on Widevine Level 1, the most secure level, but fails SafetyNet because it is unlocked.
The update’s changelog also confirms the:
“Version 5.0 only works with devices that are certified by Google and meet all Android requirements.”
What isn’t exactly clear is why only the Play store listing is blocked, but the app itself continued to function normally. I tried both Netflix 4.16 and 5.0.4 (the latest version, from today), and both worked without problems on my unlocked and rooted Galaxy Tab S (which is labeled as Widevine Security Level 3). Maybe at some point the app will stop working, but that does not appear to be the case right now.
If you have a blocked device, I recommend following the Pushbullet channel for Netflix on APKMirror (click the Pushbullet button on that page) so you can continue to receive updates outside the Play Store.