7 Jul 2011

Netflix Confirms Streaming Issues for Some Apple TV Customers

A number of Apple TV customers are unable to stream Netflix movies to their devices, according to several user reports posted over the weekend.

A Netflix spokesman confirmed to Wired.com that a small number of Apple TV devices were experiencing technical issues with the service, and the company claims the issue has been fixed.

“Now I have to use my iPhone and a composite cable to watch Netflix on my TV,” said Ryan Walton, general manager of Buymeaniphone.com, in an interview. “I paid $600 for a phone that an $89 device won’t take care of. It’s kind of sad.”

Netflix downtime for Apple TV customers is bad press for the Cupertino-based company in a video-on-demand market packed with competitors. The California-based Roku introduced its Netflix-streaming set-top box in 2008, later producing other models capable of delivering more services. Currently both Roku and TiVo offer access to Hulu Plus, which streams network and premium TV shows on demand. And of course, recent digital cable boxes now offer DVR recording services, which let you store your selected shows to watch when you want.

The glitch may also look particularly embarrassing for the Apple TV, which in years past drew criticism for its lack of movie offerings and technical capabilities compared to other digital video services on the market. (Apple CEO Steve Jobs even repeatedly refers to the Apple TV as a “hobby,” implying it’s one of the weakest products to sport the company’s brand.) The newer Apple TV 2 was a complete do-over on the set-top box, focusing on streaming video rentals instead of videos downloaded onto the device hard drive.

Therefore, those experiencing a Netflix outage over the weekend missed out on a big chunk of the Apple TV 2’s core functionality: streaming movies.

Apple did not comment on this report.

Those experiencing difficulties over the weekend received “error 111″ — or 112 or 115 — messages when attempting to watch a movie using the streaming movie service, though access to the Netflix menu screens was still possible. Complaints surfaced around Thursday July 1, continuing through the weekend.

Some others experiencing the problems, like Walton, were able to access Netflix on different non-Apple TV devices like the iPhone, iPad and a MacBook Pro. The issue appears to predominantly affect some owners of Apple’s second-generation TV device.

A number of other users went to Twitter to air complaints, while still others started threads asking about the issue on the website MacRumors.com.

“We had a technical issue with a few devices that’s fixed now,” said Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey in an interview. He declined to go into further detail.

Some users posting on the MacRumors forum pages said the issue was resolved after updating to version 4.2.2 of the Apple TV 2 software. The Apple TV update servers have been inaccessible recently, however, barring some users from the ability to update their software version.

Still, others who were updated to version 4.2.2, like Ryan Walton, continue to experience movie streaming issues.

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