If you were were hoping to enjoy that new Black Mirror movie Bandersnatch on your fancy Apple TV, then apologies. You can’t.
Editor's Note: Please be advised that this is a U.S. post so you may have a different experience in Australia.
First reported by MacRumors, we’ve confirmed that attempting to watch the interactive flick on an Apple TV (we tested it with the newer, 4k version) results in a supercut of Black Mirror characters saying “I’m sorry” before a voice helpfully suggests watching the film on another, supported device.
Almost immediately afterwards my personal email address (which is tied to my Netflix account) received an email from Netflix, again apologizing and noting that the show is “only compatible with newer smart TVs, most streaming media players, game consoles, and web browsers, and iOS and Android devices running the latest version of the Netflix app.”
This is surprising because the Apple TV is not an old device. The latest version of the Apple TV launched in the fall of 2017 and is powerful enough to support 4K streaming with HDR and 5.1 surround sound, as well as handle a wide range of games that also work just fine on iOS devices.
It’s every bit as powerful as “newer smart TVs” and “most streaming media players” and doesn’t seem to be anything like the other devices that New on Netflix has reported are unable to play it.Those devices include the Amazon FireStick and the notably outmoded Google Chromecast. It makes sense those devices would struggle. It does not make sense that a new Apple TV would.
But it is an Apple device and Apple and Netflix have a history of not playing nice with one another. Netflix still isn’t incorporated into the Apple TV’s excellent Watch app, which collates everything you’re watching across all the apps on you device, and earlier this year Netflix ran a test to see if it could stop allowing users to subscribe using Apple’s App Store billing system. That was an attempt by Netflix to avoid the “Apple Tax,” where Apple takes a cut of any financial transaction that happens through its App Store, including billing for services like Netflix.
There’s also Apple’s streaming service, that has been in development for years and seems to be an attempt to chip away at Netflix’s dominance in the streaming market.
Which means the Apple TV’s inability to play the new Netflix show could be less about technological capabilities and more about a pissing match between tech giants. Netflix, when asked for comment, told Gizmodo, “This is still very new technology and we’re working to make the interactive TV experience as available as possible.” And to be fair, Bandersnatch isn’t the first interactive content that Netflix has released and its earlier content, like Minecraft: Story Mode, had even more severe limitations on platform playback.
We’ve reached out to Apple as well and will update when were hear back. But at least for now, if you didn’t get enough of interactive films back when they were called Night Trap or The X-Files Game, you’ll just have to stream this one somewhere else.