Netflix, iOS, tvOS, CenturyLink, and a Netgear Nighthawk, Oh My!

There is zero point to this post. I’m only writing it in case someone else runs into this issue. Hopefully they don’t have to spend as many hours as I did to debug this. Maybe someone can also explain why this was an issue in the first place.

For the last six months or so I have been unable to use Netflix on any iOS or tvOS device (version 10.x at the time of this writing). I could sometimes get my list of content to load, but any attempt at playback failed with generic Netflix errors. Even signing into my Netflix account would be a chore. If you search the Netflix support site they offer the basic unhelpful support information: have you tried restarting your device or router?

I have a CenturyLink Gigabit fiber line, so hearing that it might be an issue with my connection seemed wrong, especially when you consider that I use a variety of other streaming services without issue. The other questionable thing is that Netflix does work on any non-iOS device such as my Xbox One, TiVo Bolt, and (gasp) Android phone. Any device with a fruit logo, however, was a no-go.

My home network setup isn’t super complex, but it’s also not a stock setup either.

  • CenturyLink’s fiber line comes into the house and is routed through a Technicolor C2000T modem. This is in bridge mode so it merely acts as a passthrough.
  • For routing and WiFi I have a Netgear AC5300 Nighthawk X8. You might be wondering why I don’t take the C2000T out of the equation and just use PPPoE with this. I tried, but there is something with that C2000T that enables full speed. I couldn’t get above 500/500 speed with just the Nighthawk in play.
  • iOS and tvOS devices are all connected via WiFi. iMac and random Internet of Things devices are plugged into the router via Ethernet.

What I tried and What Actually Worked

My first thought was maybe it was some sort of Quality of Service (QoS) issue with the router. I checked and I didn’t have any QoS settings enabled. Just as an experiment I tried turning them on. Still no Netflix on iOS or tvOS.

My next experiment involved trying to put my tvOS devices as the DMZ host so they had a straight passthrough from the router to the open Internet. My hope was that maybe whatever is going on in the router that was filtering the Netflix connection would just be bypassed. Hopes dashed. Still nothing.

My last idea was based off a random guess, but turned out to actually work: I disabled IPv6 on the Nighthawk. Success!

I have no idea what issue is with the chemistry between Netflix, Apple’s network stack, my router, and IPv6. All I know is that I can now watch Black Mirror.

Update: Maybe it has something to do with IPv6 being blocked by Netflix’s war on VPNs?

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