Netflix Will Shut Down Public API Support For Third-Party Developers On November 14

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Gillmor Gang Live 6.13.14

Netflix is getting a lot stingier with the way that third-party developers can use its content, announcing that it will stop supporting its public API by the end of the year. In a letter to API partners, Netflix VP of Edge Engineering Daniel Jacobson announced that it would retire the public API program effective November 14.

The decision to shutdown its API seems a long time coming. Launched six years ago, the API originally provided third-party developers a way to access and point to content that users could get from Netflix in its streaming and DVD catalogs.

That helped the company grow, as subscribers could use third-party apps to check the availability of titles, reserve DVDs, and even link directly to streaming content on the web. At the same time, it gave developers a way to build new experiences around Netflix content that they weren’t licensing themselves.

But with more than 35 million subscribers in the U.S. and another 12.5 million internationally, the company apparently no longer needs third-party support to help it grow. Instead, it’s decided to limit API access to the apps that it builds and those from select partners.

Over time, Netflix has cut back on what developers could do with the API, and that in turn limited development around the platform. Most websites and apps that use the API primarily do so to enable another layer of search and discovery while deep-linking to the official Netflix experience.

Then last year, the company announced it would stop issuing new API keys to third-party developers, but it grandfathered in apps that were already using the API. Now, it’s taking that away as well, according to an email sent to API partners.

The following email, forwarded to TechCrunch, was sent to third-party developers earlier today.

Netflix API Developers,
As Netflix continues to grow internationally, the emphasis of our engineering efforts is to satisfy a growing member base and a growing number of devices. To better focus our efforts and to align them with the needs of our global member base, we will be retiring the public API program. Effective on November 14, 2014, public API developers will no longer be able to access Netflix content. All requests to the public API will return 404 errors.
Thank you to for participating in the ecosystem throughout the years.
Daniel Jacobson
VP of Edge Engineering

UPDATE: In a blog post, Netflix said that it would continue to work with a small number of select partners, including:

  • Instant Watcher
  • Fanhattan
  • Yidio
  • NextGuide
  • Flixster
  • Can I Stream It?
  • FeedFliks
  • Instant Watch Browser for Netflix

We’ve reached out to Netflix for comment on the change, and will report back when we know more.