It is indeed true that Netflix is no longer allowing new or resubscribing members to sign up for a Netflix subscription using an in-app purchase via the App Store, Netflix today apparently told VentureBeat. This change appears to have been implemented as of late last month.
Earlier this year as well, Netflix experimented with disabling the in-app subscription options for Netflix subscribers in a few countries, as of today. Netflix says this new experiment has concluded and the change has been rolled out to the whole entire Netflix platform.
Just as described on Netflix’s own support page, iTunes own billing station is no longer available to the new or rejoining Netflix customers. Those who currently pay for their subscriptions through iTunes can continue to use iTunes billing until their accounts are cancelled.
Also, when opening up the Netflix app on an iOS device, there are no longer any fields for signing up for a Netflix account within the app nor are there instructions on how to obtain a subscription, which this is likely to help avoid violating Apple’s App Store rules. The app simply offers a new sign-in window and also says that members who subscribe to Netflix can watch within the app itself.
Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines actually prohibit developers from asking iOS users to use a purchase method other than the in-app purchase, which Netflix is skirting by offering no sign up options at all.
iPad and iPhone users who want to sign up for Netflix will now need to do so through the Netflix website rather than through the Netflix app itself.
Netflix undoubtedly made this entire change to avoid paying subscription fees to Apple. Apple collects a 30% commission on all subscription fees during the first year after a subscriber signs up for a service using an iOS app, and 15% every year thereafter.
Netflix also does not need to pay the subscription fee for customers who sign up for the service outside the App Store, and this change means that Apple won’t be able to collect a portion of the $7.99+ subscription fee from future Netflix subscribers.
Update: A Netflix spokesperson has provided the following statement to MacRumors, calling Apple a “Valued Partner”.
We unfortunately no longer support iTunes as a method of payment for new Netflix members. Existing members who currently use iTunes as a method of payment can continue to do so at their will.
Apple is a valued partner with who we work closely with to deliver great entertainment to members from around the world across a range of devices including the iPhone and the Apple TV as well.