Netflix is blocking rooted Android devices — Amazon Fire TVs are not affected

Netflix has started blocking rooted devices from installing their app. Currently, this only affects devices that use the Google Play Store. This means that, for the time being, Amazon devices are not affected, so rooted Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks still have no problem installing and using Netflix.

A couple of days ago, Netflix on the Google Play Store started using Google’s Widevine DRM technology. This means that “devices that are not Google-certified or have been altered” are no longer permitted to install the Netflix app through the Google Play Store. Rooting a device or unlocking its bootloader qualifies as “altering” the device and makes it incompatible with Widevine.

Amazon’s devices, including the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, do not use Google’s Widevine DRM technology, so the Netflix app in the Amazon appstore does not require Widevine. This is why this change does not affect rooted Fire TV devices.

It does not seem as though Netflix’s app actually checks for Widevine certification because devices unable to install Netflix from the Google Play Store, due to this change, are still able to sideload the Netflix app and use it just fine.

The new adoption of Widevine for Android devices using the Google PLay Store could mean that Netflix is going to start cracking down on rooted devices, in a similar manner to how they began cracking down on VPN use not too long ago. For the moment, everything is fine for rooted Fire TV devices, but that may change in the near future.

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27 comments
  1. anthony says:

    who uses aftv wants to install netflix…they aint got anything in their app

  2. Adam says:

    Im not up on how one would accomplish this, but does rooting make copying content from the Fire easier somehow?

    I can see how it might with other devices, but the FireTV really only has the FireTV OS to run on it, and that’s pretty locked down, right?

    • tom42 says:

      Yes with a rooted device and can capture netflix’s video feeds

      • Vanb says:

        Ah, thanks for explaining that. I have a rooted tablet, but I don’t use it to download video streams. So, I had not idea that was possible via a rooted device. I couldn’t understand why Netflix would care about my rooted device. I’m not certain this is the best way for them to go about this. The people who are capturing their streams will always find a way around their blockades. There are plenty of us who have rooted devices who have neither the no how nor the inclination to capture their streams with those devices. So, they’re really just punishing those of us who would otherwise use their services on our rooted devices simply for watching the videos, not ripping streams. I have a Fire tablet which has the Amazon Appstore natively installed. So, I have a built in workaround by just downloading their app from Amazon instead of the Google Play Store. Still this seems a little counterproductive.

  3. Y314K says:

    Glad all my FTV1 devices have a fully unlocked bootloader. Might be able to get some Magisk magic root hidding going.

    • Nate says:

      Magisk really interests me, especially considering it’s move to an open source code and contrast to SuperSU (which I actually did not know was sold to another consortium recently).

      I am currently on an AFTV2 rooted box using rbox’s latest ROM after having rooted with KingRoot and having SuperSU installed. Any idea if Magisk is a viable alternative to current rooting methods?

      Magisk may not bill itself as an Xposed all in one style replacement, but some of the baked in features really has me looking into it, especially the root hide option.

      Anyone have any working knowledge of Magisk on a Fire TV or if it is even possible to use together?

      • Y314K says:

        Now that all devices ar on the same FW version. I am getting ready to request support for them over at the Magisk thread in the next few days. But at first glance it seems only FTS1’s with fully unlocked bootloaders will be compatible. Hopefully RBox & Magisk can work some magic to expand it to the other FTV(S)’S.

      • Y314K says:

        Magisk is the only Lollipop aka FireOS 5 Systemless solution. So that makes it compatible by default. Although some tweaking might need to be added. I think once I upload the PreRooted Roms Bootloafer(s). They should figure that out. But there shouldn’t be nothing major.

        All Magisk Apps work/open fine on my FTV1’s (Magisk Manager & recommended XPosed Manger). I am just waiting to post & get some feedback to actually install their Root Method. Basicly it would take just a one button push in their app for the first test.

        • Nate says:

          Thanks for the feedback!

          I had a funny feeling that the first generation devices would be compatible given the bootloader situation. Suffice to say, if you happen to come across anything that may open an avenue for 2nd generation device owners, please post back here and let us know.

          I know I will certainly be giving Magisk a whirl on my phone in the future given the features and systemless nature.

          • Y314K says:

            Will do. Some folks have bricked their devices by just trying it without doing any planning ahead. I don’t plan to be one of those folks.

            I also would never recommend the FTV devices ever use the APP to install the MagiskSU. I think that even us with fully unlocked bootloaders should only use the .zip binary installer thru TWRP to even attempt any testing.

            Will post here once I get a testing thread going @ XDA.

  4. Adam says:

    It would be ironic if the box I bought to watch Netflix on made it so that the only way I could watch Netflix shows would be to pirate them…

  5. Rodalpho says:

    This will just start an arms war. Once you have root you can do anything, including hiding it from google or netflix.

  6. Al says:

    This means nothing if you got a rooted Android box you don’t need Netflix

    • Adam says:

      Oh? I can legally watch 4k House of Cards without Netflix on my rooted FireTV then?

      Please expound.

    • tech3475 says:

      If you’re thinking of pirate streams, you dont need root for that anyway……although if they do block root it may just tempt more people to use them.

  7. tech3475 says:

    Thanks for the confirmation, I just hope they’re only using widevine as its native to google services and dont go any further.

  8. Ichijoe says:

    My guess is this will have more impact on those who use Phablets to cast stuff to their TV Dongles than to those with authorized Boxes. e.g. AFTVs, or nSATVs or those with a MiBox. In these cases the Netflix App would be a pre-installed system app. I don’t know if the AFTV, or the nSATV have a ~Samsung~ style Knox Flag on them that will burn an eFuse when you unlock it. Which would make this kind of a Check relatively child’s play.

    So I think this story from within our context is largely just clickbait for now.

    • tech3475 says:

      It will impact anyone with root and/or unlocked bootloaders where this DRM is in use.

      There are devices which require a code to unlock the ability to unlock the bootloade but AFAIK you can relock these using fastboot.

      The AFTV does have an efuse with exception to really old firmware, but the current root method is higher up so isn’t affected by it.

  9. Haha says:

    uh who cares we use Exodus.. down with Netflix

  10. Brian says:

    if it makes it to the FireTv, will rootcloak work? Like it does for PSVue.

    • tech3475 says:

      I’ve heard over on XDA that people are using magisk to bypass the issue.

      The DRM seems to be a cat and mouse game overall, based on what I’ve seen/understand.

      Of course, if Amazon aren’t including the DRM then there would have to be something in Fire OS Netflix could use or they’d have to add a check in the app itself.

      • Y314K says:

        The biggest problem is that Magisk needs a fully unlocked bootloader for it. So as of right now only some FTV1’s might be able to use this option.

  11. JoeB says:

    I don’t know why Netflix/Google/Amazon would want to put resources and effort towards these kinds of restrictions since people who root and unlock bootloaders have methods to cloak them.

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    • JoeB says:

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