Netflix CEO Confirms Netflix Won’t Be Part of Apple’s Upcoming Video Service

Apple is set to unveil its long-rumored TV service next Monday, and ahead of the event, Netflix has confirmed that it won't be participating in Apple's streaming offering.

At a briefing at the company's headquarters in Hollywood, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that while Apple is a "great company," Netflix isn't interested in offering its content on other platforms. "We want to have people watch our shows on our services," he said, according to Recode.


Netflix has never embraced Apple TV features like "Up Next" designed to allow Apple TV users to see all of their watched TV shows at a glance, so it's no surprise to hear that Netflix does not plan to offer its content through Apple's upcoming streaming service.

Set to be launched next week, Apple's TV offering will feature both its original content and add-on content from other cable providers like Showtime and HBO. Apple will allow customers to sign up for subscriptions to third-party services like HBO right within the TV app, which will serve as Apple's TV content hub.

Apple's video hub will be similar to what Amazon offers through its Prime Video app. Amazon provides original TV shows along with options to subscribe to premium content through a Channels feature.

In response to a question about how Netflix will compete with Apple and Amazon going forward, Hastings said the company will do so "with difficulty," though he pointed out that Netflix has already been competing with Amazon for years.

"You do your best job when you have great competitors," he said, before admitting that the increased competition has led to higher prices when sourcing content.

Apple is going to give us a first look at its video service on Monday, March 25, at an event set to be held at its Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. Multiple celebrities that are starring in Apple shows, like Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston, and Reese Witherspoon, will be present.

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Netflix ‘Doubling Down’ on Interactive TV Shows, Unclear if Any Will Be Available on Apple TV

Netflix plans to output even more interactive television shows similar to the Black Mirror episode "Bandersnatch", but it's unclear as of now if any of these will work on the Apple TV. Netflix vice president of product Todd Yellin announced the company's intent to make more interactive content at a conference in Mumbai today (via Variety).


These shows, and potentially movies, will extend beyond the science fiction setting of Black Mirror and could even include romances, comedies, and more, where the audience gets to choose the outcome. Yellin said that the output of these stories will increase over the next two years.
“[Bandersnatch] is a huge hit here in India, it’s a huge hit around the world, and we realized, wow, interactive storytelling is something we want to bet more on,” Yellin said. “We’re doubling down on that. So expect over the next year or two, to see more interactive storytelling. And it won’t necessarily be science fiction, or it won’t necessarily be dark. It could be a wacky comedy. It could be a romance, where the audience gets to choose, should she go out with him or him.”
When "Bandersnatch" released in December 2018, Apple device users had to watch the episode on an iPhone, iPad, or web browser to get the full experience. When selected on the Netflix Apple TV app, a brief apology video would play and point users toward the correct device with which they could watch the episode.

Despite being unavailable on Apple TV, "Bandersnatch" can be viewed on TV streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Android TV. Netflix has launched interactive TV shows before, including "Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale" and "Minecraft: Story Mode." While some of these kids' shows are playable on Apple TV, like Puss in Book, they are linear versions that automatically choose the outcomes for you.

Others, like Minecraft, display an apology message on Apple TV and ask you to visit a supported device to watch the show. Although the Apple TV remote lacks the more complex controls provided by game consoles, computers, and smart TVs, it's unclear why Netflix hasn't figured out a way to get these shows to work on the Apple TV with the Siri Remote.

Still, this isn't the first time Netflix has been at odds with an Apple platform or service, as the streaming company continues to resist support for Apple's TV app. We've reached out to Netflix regarding future support for its interactive shows on the Apple TV, and will update this article if they provide a comment.

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Netflix Launches ‘Smart Downloads’ for Streamlined Access to Offline Content

Netflix today announced the launch of a new Smart Downloads feature that's designed to streamline the process of downloading content for offline viewing.

With Smart Downloads, when you finish viewing an episode of a TV show that you've downloaded, Netflix will delete it and then automatically download the next episode. Smart Downloads is designed to download content only when you're connected to Wi-Fi so it's not using your cellular data plan.


Netflix users can choose to use or disable the Smart Downloads feature, which is available on iOS and Android devices. Turning off Smart Downloads will keep watched content on your device.

On iPhone and iPad, you can tap the Downloads icon, choose "My Downloads" and select "Smart Downloads" to toggle it on or off.

Netflix for iOS can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

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Netflix Debuts New Integration for Sharing Movies and TV Shows in Instagram Stories

Netflix today launched a new Instagram integration that's designed to allow Instagram users to share their favorite movies and TV shows in Stories, reports Variety.

The feature can be used by selecting a title of choice within the Netflix app for iOS devices, tapping on the "Share" icon, and then selecting "Instagram Stories" as an option.

"We're always on the lookout for ways to make it easier for members to share the Netflix titles they're obsessing about and help them discover something new to watch," said a Netflix spokesperson. "We hope our members enjoy this new feature!"
From there, Netflix opens up Instagram with a screen featuring the show's name and artwork, with an option to share it to Stories or send it to close friends.

Instagram has been allowing third-party apps to integrate with Stories since May 2018, and other integrations include Spotify and SoundCloud.


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Netflix Plans Latest Price Hike, Standard Plan Increasing From $11 to $13/Month

Netflix today announced that it will raise the prices for all of its subscription tiers, the latest price hike since November 2017. Specifically, the cheap "Basic" tier will rise from $8 to $9/month, the popular HD "Standard" tier will rise from $11 to $13/month, and the 4K "Premium" tier will rise from $14 to $16/month.


According to CNBC, the changes take effect immediately for new customers signing up for Netflix, while current subscribers will be grandfathered in to their existing prices for now, and see the price hike emerge over the next three months. The increase represents a jump of between 13 percent and 18 percent, which is Netflix's biggest price increase since it launched streaming 12 years ago.

Today's report says that the extra cash will be used to pay for Netflix's lofty investment in original shows and films, as well as finance the debt it's recently taken on to "ward off streaming threats" from Apple, Disney, and others.

Netflix is boosting its original catalog of shows and movies as more companies remove their content from its service and build their own platforms, just like Disney will do with Marvel and Star Wars movies sometime this year. After they're removed from Netflix for good, Disney's streaming service "Disney+" will be the exclusive streaming home of these franchises.

Netflix is also gearing up for new competition in the streaming market, particularly from Apple's upcoming original television shows. Apple is planning to debut its first string of shows at some point in 2019, and they'll reportedly be free for Apple device owners in the company's TV app, likely taking some streaming time away from Netflix for users who stream on Apple TV.

In total, this is the fourth price hike for Netflix subscribers in the streaming service's history. The HD Standard tier was priced at $10/month in 2017 before it rose to $11/month in November of that year, and now it will be priced at $13/month.

During one of the first price hikes in 2016, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings noted that the company saw an "unexpected" loss of subscribers when raising the Standard tier from $8 to $10/month. "Whatever the price is for something, people don't like for it to go up," Hastings admitted at the time.

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Netflix No Longer Offering In-App Subscription Options on iOS Devices

Netflix is no longer allowing new or resubscribing members to sign up for a Netflix subscription using an in-app purchase via the App Store, Netflix today told VentureBeat. The change appears to have been implemented late last month.

Earlier this year Netflix experimented with disabling in-app subscription options for Netflix subscribers in a number of countries, and as of today, Netflix says the experiment has concluded and the change has been rolled out to the entire Netflix platform.


As described on a Netflix support page, iTunes billing options are no longer available to new or rejoining Netflix customers. Those who currently pay for their subscriptions via iTunes can continue to use iTunes billing until their accounts are cancelled.

When opening up the Netflix app on an iOS device, there are no longer fields for signing up for a Netflix account within the app nor are there instructions on how to obtain a subscription, likely to avoid violating Apple's App Store rules. The app simply offers a sign-in window and says that members who subscribe to Netflix can watch within the app.

Apple's App Store Review Guidelines prohibit developers from asking iOS users to use a purchase method other than in-app purchase, which Netflix is skirting by offering no sign up options at all.

iPad and iPhone users who want to sign up for Netflix will now need to do so through the Netflix website rather than through the Netflix app.

Netflix undoubtedly made this change to avoid paying subscription fees to Apple. Apple collects a 30 percent commission on all subscription fees during the first year after a subscriber signs up for a service using an iOS app, and 15 percent every year thereafter.

Netflix does not need to pay the subscription fee for customers who sign up for the service outside of the App Store, and this change means that Apple will not be able to collect a portion of the $7.99+ subscription fee from future Netflix subscribers.

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Netflix’s New Interactive ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’ Episode Doesn’t Work on Apple TV

The latest episode of popular horror series "Black Mirror" is available on Netflix today, but you're not going to want to watch it on the Apple TV.

"Bandersnatch," the new episode, is an interactive choose-your-own adventure style show where you make the decisions on how the story progresses. As it turns out, the interactive feature does not work on the Apple TV, Chromecast, the Windows App, or browsers using Silverlight.


According to a Netflix support document, its interactive content is limited to smart TVs, streaming media players, game consoles, iOS devices, and Android devices running the latest version of the Netflix app.

Those with Apple devices are going to want to use an iPhone, iPad, or web browser to watch "Bandersnatch" to get the full experience. If you try to watch on the Apple TV, you will see a message that the interactive content can't be displayed, with Netflix recommending that you watch on another device. From Netflix's website:
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is only available on devices that support interactive content. No linear version is available.

If you attempt to watch Black Mirror: Bandersnatch on a device that does not support interactive content, you will be instructed to switch to a supported device.

"Black Mirror: Bandersnatch" is available as of this morning on Netflix. You can make sure you're watching a the episode on a compatible device if you see a red badge in the corner of the display.

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Netflix Testing Cheaper Mobile-Only Subscription Model in Select Countries

As Netflix tries to grow subscriber numbers outside of the United States, TechCrunch reports today that the streaming video company is testing out a subscription model where users are only able to watch on a phone or a tablet. With this stipulation, the cost of Netflix is cut by as much as 50 percent from the "Basic" tier, down to around $4/month from $8/month.


Right now, the test appears to be centered in Malaysia, but earlier in the week Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told Bloomberg that the company plans to test numerous lower-price plans throughout Asia. A Netflix spokesperson speaking to TechCrunch confirmed that similar mobile-only trials are "running in a few countries."

For the mobile-only option, users can only watch shows in SD, and if they ever want to watch Netflix on a laptop or television, they'll have to upgrade their plan. Like many companies, Netflix is always testing out new features and updates to its service, so it's unclear if mobile-only options will grow beyond trials and enter countries where Netflix is already popular, like the United States.

As of now, Netflix offers three subscription tiers: Basic, Standard, and Premium. Basic costs $7.99/month, offers one screen to stream content on at a time, and only in SD. Standard upgrades this by offering two simultaneous streams in HD for $10.99/month, while Premium has the most simultaneous streams on offer at four, as well as HD and Ultra HD content, all for $13.99/month. One year ago Netflix increased the price of its Standard and Premium tiers, which previously cost $9.99 and $11.99 respectively.

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Netflix Tests Disabling In-App Subscriptions on iOS in Some Countries

Netflix is already one of the highest grossing apps on the App Store, as many iPhone and iPad users pay for their subscriptions via iTunes/Apple ID billing, but the streaming video platform wants an even bigger piece of the pie.


TechCrunch today reported that, until September 30, new or lapsed subscribers in some 33 countries will be unable to pay using iTunes.

The countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, and the UK.

A customer service representative for Netflix confirmed the test with TechCrunch:
During this time, customers in these countries may experience any of the following when launching the Netflix app on an iOS (mobile or tablet) device:

1. Ability to sign up in app with only iTunes Mode Of Payment.
2. Ability to log into Netflix but not sign up (sign up only via mobile browser).

We are constantly innovating and testing new signup approaches on different platforms to better understand what our members like. Based on what we learn, we work to improve the Netflix experience for members everywhere.
This means that some iPhone and iPad users who open the Netflix app will only be able to sign into an existing, active account, with no option to create a new account. By the sound of it, Netflix is hoping that these users will close the app, and sign up through its mobile website or elsewhere with a credit card.

Apple collects a 30 percent commission—15 percent after the first year—from users who subscribe via its in-app purchase mechanism, so it's pretty clear that Netflix is trying to avoid padding the pockets of one of its biggest competitors, which just so happens to be working on a Netflix-like service itself.

Of note, Apple's App Store Review Guidelines state that developers are not permitted to "directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase," but it appears that Netflix has worked around this rule by simply not offering new users the option to sign up in-app whatsoever.

We've reached out to Apple for comment.

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Netflix Tests Video Promos Between TV Show Episodes

Netflix is testing a new feature that adds video promos in between episodes of TV shows, Netflix confirmed to TechCrunch this afternoon.

The promos Netflix is showing to some users include full-screen personalized videos with content recommendations similar to Netflix recommendations available elsewhere on Netflix.


According to TechCrunch, the promotional videos displace preview information for the next episode of a TV show, with title, description, and thumbnail no longer visible.

Many Netflix users on Reddit and Twitter who have the new video promos have been complaining about them, with multiple threats to cancel the service if Netflix does indeed introduce promotional videos.

TechCrunch says that this is not a feature that is rolling out to subscribers at this time, but is instead a test that Netflix is running to determine how to better promote content.

Still, a small percentage of Netflix's global audience is impacted by the test, which is ongoing.
At Netflix, we conduct hundreds of tests every year so we can better understand what helps members more easily find something great to watch. A couple of years ago, we introduced video previews to the TV experience, because we saw that it significantly cut the time members spend browsing and helped them find something they would enjoy watching even faster. Since then, we have been experimenting even more with video based on personalized recommendations for shows and movies on the service or coming shortly, and continue to learn from our members.

In this particular case, we are testing whether surfacing recommendations between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster. It is important to note that a member is able to skip a video preview at anytime if they are not interested.
While some users have said the ads are not skippable, it does appear that customers are able to continue on with an episode at any time, bypassing the promotional video, a feature that has been confirmed by Netflix.

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