Netflix Is Dropping Support for Older Apple TV Models

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If you’re a Netflix fan with an older Apple TV kicking around, it will soon be time to upgrade. The streaming giant announced this week that it’s dropping support for the second- and third-generation Apple TV set-top boxes this summer.

The news came out to subscribers this week via an email that appears to be targeted to those who have previously signed in at least once on one of the impacted models. As of this writing, there’s no information about the change on the Netflix support pages, but there’s no reason to believe the message isn’t legitimate.

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You’re receiving this email because you’ve used Apple TV (2nd generation) and/or Apple TV (3rd generation) with Netflix in the past. Unfortunately, we’re sunsetting support for these devices on Jul 31, 2024. We know this can be frustrating, but we’re doing this to ensure you maintain the best possible Netflix viewing experience.

However, before you panic, it’s important to note the lack of the “4K” designator here. Apple’s generational qualifiers are a bit confusing when it comes to its set-top box, particularly for those who have only jumped in over the past few years.

There are three distinct lineups of Apple TV:

  1. The first three generations of Apple TV models were released from 2007 to 2013.
  2. The “Apple TV HD” came along in 2015. This was originally referred to as the “Apple TV (4th-generation),” but was later redesignated “HD” to help set it apart from the later 4K models. This was the first Apple TV to run tvOS and offer an App Store.
  3. This was followed by three generations of the current Apple TV 4K, the first of which appeared in 2017.

In other words, Netflix isn’t talking about any recent models here. After all, the Apple TV 4K (3rd generation) was released in late 2022, and the second-generation model is only a year older than that. It would be patently absurd for Netflix to discontinue support for those.

What Netflix is referring to is the 2010 and 2012 Apple TV models. These were from an era before the App Store, which means the Netflix app on them was built into the operating system (which wasn’t even the tvOS we know today).

It’s impressive that the Netflix app has survived on these older set-top boxes as long as it has. This is nearly a fourteen-year run for the second-generation Apple TV, the first model to support the streaming service.

The original first-generation Apple TV never included Netflix. Since it arrived in 2007, when streaming services were in their infancy, it was a very different beast from the smaller black models that succeeded it, focusing instead on syncing videos from iTunes on your Mac or PC.

The lack of an App Store for these older models means that Netflix has no way of updating the app to ensure compatibility with any back-end changes. Apple stopped releasing software updates for these models years ago and also dropped AirPlay support for streaming DRM-protected content to these older models in iOS 16.

Netflix has likely maintained legacy code for years to avoid breaking compatibility with these older devices. After all, it’s in Netflix’s best interests to support as many paying customers as possible.

However, it needs to draw the line at some point. Cutting off these decade-old Apple TV units will be disappointing to folks who have repurposed them into spare rooms, but there’s no shortage of modern and inexpensive options that can be used to access Netflix. Even the 2015 Apple TV HD is still fully supported and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future since it’s still receiving the latest tvOS updates and, by extension, can get the same Netflix app updates available to the entire Apple TV 4K lineup.

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