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Older smart TVs and Roku devices won’t play Netflix after December 1

If you’ve been loyally sticking with an older Roku streaming device, it might be time to say goodbye. On December 1, a number of old models will lose the ability to access Netflix, making these devices a little less useful for those who subscribe to the massive streaming service. Maybe its time for a new Roku gizmo?

Originally reported by Cordcutters, Digital Trends confirmed this news with a Roku spokesperson. “Due to technical limitations, Netflix will no longer be available on select older Roku players after December 1, 2019. These devices include models Roku 2050X, Roku 2100X, Roku 2000C, Roku HD Player, Roku SD Player, Roku XR Player, Roku XD Player,” we were told via email.

It’s not just old Roku players that are seeing this message. Apparently some older smart TVs — including many older Samsung televisions — are also losing the ability to stream Netflix:

Due to technical limitations, Netflix will no longer be available on this device after December 1st, 2019. Please visit netflix.com/compatibledevices for a list of available devices. Netflix support page

If you own one of the affected devices, you’ll see one of these messages the next time you fire up the Netflix app.

The affected Roku models are among the first generation of players, some having debuted as long ago as 2009. These devices can still run thousands of other Roku channels so they’re not completely useless once they lose the ability to run Netflix. Nonetheless, Netflix remains a top driver of Roku device purchases — so much so, that when Netflix announces an unexpected drop in subscriber numbers for a given quarter, Roku’s stock takes a hit. More than half of all hours streamed on a Roku device can be attributed to two sources: Netflix and YouTube, according to CNBC.

Roku is painfully aware of its reliance on Netflix and has been actively working on new features, partnerships, and revenue models to reduce the importance that Netflix plays in its fortunes. The Roku Channel acts as a central hub for finding content to watch from dozens of channels, including premium offerings like HBO and Showtime.

The Featured Free menu option that is part of Roku’s OS 9.2 software drives viewers to ad-supported, free movies and shows that bring in advertising revenue. Plus, the recently announced addition of the Apple TV app (and soon-to-launch Apple TV+ service) will further insulate Roku from ups and downs associated with its Netflix relationship.

If you decide it’s time to upgrade, the good news is that you can do so for as little as $30. The new Roku Express is a palm-sized media streamer that comes with a basic Roku remote and it doesn’t do 4K or HDR video, but you still get the latest Roku software and many handy features like remote listening via the free Roku app for iOS and Android.

Updated on October 18, 2019: Information added about older smart TVs that may also be affected.

Simon Cohen
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
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