Netflix recently broke for a number of users, and the error message the company provided wasn’t entirely clear about why. Gizmodo spoke with the company about the incident, and Netflix offered more details about why this is happening.
Last week, multiple outlets reported that select Roku devices, as well as older Samsung or Vizio TVs, would soon lose support for Netflix beginning in December. In a note on its support page, Netflix said that affected users would begin seeing error messages about the changes. That same note—one that seems rather vague considering a total disappearance of its service from user devices—blamed unspecified “technical limitations.”
“We’ve notified all impacted members with more information about alternative devices we support so they can keep enjoying Netflix uninterrupted,” a Netflix spokesperson told Gizmodo by email. The spokesperson added the change would affect a “small number” of older devices. But that doesn’t really scratch the surface of why this is happening, so what gives?
The Netflix spokesperson told Gizmodo the company is constantly improving upon its product, but with respect to Roku devices in particular, the issue boils down to older devices running Windows Media DRM. Since 2010, Netflix has been using Microsoft PlayReady. The spokesperson said that, starting December 2, older devices that aren’t able to upgrade to PlayReady won’t be able to use the service.
A Roku spokesperson told Gizmodo that many of the affected devices are eight- to ten-years-old and noted that old hardware can’t keep up with new software forever. According to the company, Roku devices that will no longer support Netflix include: Roku SD (N1050), Roku HD-XR (N1101), Roku HD (N1100, 2000C), and Roku XD (2050X, 2050N, 2100X, 2100N). The spokesperson said the company has been communicating with its customers directly both by email as well as on-device about the change.
When reached for comment by email, Samsung also cited “technical limitations.” It said that the lack of Netflix support “will impact select 2010 and 2011 Samsung Smart TV models that were sold in the U.S. and Canada.”
Vizio, meanwhile, said that its impacted devices were sold around 2012 to 2014 and include some of its Smart TVs with VIZIO Internet Apps (V.I.A.). The company added that Netflix “continues to work smoothly on other VIZIO Smart TVs with VIZIO Internet Apps Plus (V.I.A. Plus) and SmartCast TVs/Displays. There are still over 70 apps available to consumers with V.I.A. devices.”
Watching your loved-to-death gadgets eventually go the way Dodo is rough. But hey, the good thing about Netflix is that it can be streamed just about anywhere. And its tsunami of so-so content will be waiting when you return.