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Netflix will no longer let subscribers pay via Apple iTunes

Netflix will start cancelling subscriptions unless users switch payment methods.

netflix on macbook air
Image: KnowTechie

Netflix customers who pay for their subscriptions through Apple’s iTunes billing feature will need to find another way to shell out their hard-earned money for the streaming service.

Starting this week, Netflix began notifying customers who pay for their subscription through iTunes or Apple Pay that they will need to add a credit card or other payment method to their account, or they may lose access to their account entirely, reported The Streamable.

The move comes several years after the streaming service affirmed it would stop allowing new customers to pay for the streaming service through iTunes, though it kept the option for most of its existing subscribers who opted to pay for the service through Apple instead of directly via the Netflix website.

In 2015, Netflix integrated iTunes billing into its app, allowing Apple iPhone, iPad and TV device users to pay for their plan without having to put a credit or debit card on file with the service. The company stopped offering iTunes billing as an option just three years later.

Some subscribers liked the convenience of paying for the service through their Apple device, which required an active iTunes account, while others stuck around with iTunes billing because they received a favorable monthly rate at a time when the service was regularly increasing its price for other users.

Netflix subscribers report payments made through Apple are failing

Two overlapping social media complaint posts by a user named Megan about Netflix charging her through Apple Pay and the issues that arose from it, displayed on a purple and white background.
Image: @meganwalsh / KnowTechie

One long-time customer said on X (formerly Twitter) that the service suddenly stopped working with Apple Pay this week, leaving them unable to renew their $10 per month plan that has long since been retired.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the subscriber wound up being charged through Apple, and at a much higher price than the service’s Premium plan, which costs $23 per month. Still, the move caught many subscribers off guard, though maybe it shouldn’t have.

Like other streaming services, Netflix has faced external pressure by investors and shareholders to generate higher returns on their streaming content and associated plans.

That pressure comes after several years in which the streaming giant spent tens of billions of dollars producing original content and licensing TV shows from others (remember that time it spent $100 million just so it could stream “Friends” for an additional year?).

And, like other services, the streaming service has long wanted to shirk the “Apple tax” that involves giving Apple around 30% of all revenue earned from subscription sales when customers opt to pay for a service via iTunes billing.

That might not sound like much until one considers that 30% of Netflix’s domestic revenue last year was around $4.47 billion (The company’s full-year earnings from the U.S. and Canada were $14.9 billion). 

While it isn’t clear how much of that $14.9 billion came from sales of subscribers paying through iTunes, it stands to reason that a sizable chunk of it may still today.

And, if the service did allow customers paying via iTunes to stick with older prices, it means the company isn’t making as much money off those customers unless they forced them to pay for plans directly through the Netflix website — a move that, apparently, has now happened.

Customers who are affected by the move have a few options: First, they can always cancel their subscription, which might be a good approach if they find they aren’t using the service very much these days.

Cancellation is as simple as turning off auto-renew through Apple’s subscription menu — though it appears the service will do this for them pretty soon, so it might just be a matter of waiting things out.

Second, subscribers who do want to keep Netflix can take advantage of one of three plans:

  • Netflix with Ads: $8 per month (includes advertisements)
  • Netflix Standard: $15.50 per month (no ads)
  • Netflix Premium: $23 per month (includes 4K video)

NOTE: A Netflix spokesperson tells KnowTechie that this update will affect basic plan members in some countries, including the US and Canada – not all members on Netflix. 

Finally, subscribers should see if another service they pay for offers a discount or deal on Netflix.

Customers with certain T-Mobile wireless plans, including T-Mobile for Business, may qualify for Netflix with Ads for free as part of their service, or a discount on the other two Netflix plans if they prefer to stream shows without commercial interruptions. 

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Matthew Keys is an award-winning freelance journalist who covers the intersection of media, technology and journalism. He is the publisher of TheDesk.net and a contributor to KnowTechie, StreamTV Insider (formerly Fierce Video) and Digital Content Next. Matthew is based in Northern California.

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