Netflix ‘Watch Instantly’ Not Working with Your iPad? Here’s How to Fix It

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UPDATED April 13, 2016 – If you’ve been enjoying watching Netflix on your iPad, and your Netflix app has suddently stopped working, read on. The excellent – and free – Netflix app for the iPad allows you to instantly stream and watch both movies and television shows to your iPad, for nothing more than the cost of a Netflix membership. But some users are finding that after enjoying the Netflix iPad ‘Watch Instantly’ experience for a while, suddenly the ‘watch instantly’ option stops working. After selecting a show to watch, the Netflix application just hangs and hangs. After a great deal of testing, we have determined that a problem with Netflix ‘watch instantly’ is almost always caused by the same thing. Here’s how to fix it. (Bonus: We also explain what the Netflix “6 digit phone service code” is.)

The way that the problem will most likely manifest is that you will run the Netflix app, and all will seem fine:

Netflix iPad Application Loading Screen


In fact, you will even be taken into your Netflix account, further suggesting that there is no problem, and that all is fine and dandy with Netflix and your iPad.

Netflix Account Home Screen:

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Than you go into the “Watch Instantly” area (where, again, everything seems fine), and you select something to watch. Here we have selected the awesome movie, Julie & Julia.



After selecting a movie or television show to watch instantly, you see this screen, and this is were the trouble starts, because instead of loading your movie or tv show, your iPad just hangs at this screen:


netflix watch instantly julie julia


Or, it may then go to a black screen which may or may not indicate “authorizing”, which lulls you into thinking that it is actually doing something:




In reality, however, your show never starts, and eventually you end up back at this screen again, if you ever left it:




The problem is that while your iPad is hanging at one of those two screens, while it seems as if your iPad is connected to Netflix, in reality it is desperately trying – and unable – to connect to the actual movie server itself.

Nobody actually knows why iPads may suddenly experience this problem – you may have used your iPad for weeks, watching Netflix movies and tv shows with the Netflix iPad application, having nary a hiccup with the “watch instantly” option, and suddenly – nada.

But we know how to fix it.

Here is what you have to do:

First, go into the ‘settings’ area of your iPad, by clicking on the “Settings” badge from your home screen:




Next, way down at the bottom, select “Reset”:




Next click on “Reset Network Settings”:




This will bring up a confirm window, and you will confirm by hitting “Reset” – Note: You will have to re-enter your wifi settings after this, but it’s a small price to pay to get your Netflix app working again!:




There – all better!

Here is a bonus screenshot of one of our favorite television shows, being watched on the iPad with the Netflix ‘watch instantly’ option – bonus points to readers who can identify this show!




And finally, we told you that we’d explain Netflix’ “six digit phone service code” to you. When you call Netflix customer service, the recorded message tells you that for faster service, please enter your 6 digit phone service code. But if you haven’t dialed Netflix as a result of going through their customer help area on their website, you will have no idea what that is, or what it means.

When you seek help on the Netflix site, in the help area, there is a link for “contact us”, which takes you to the Netflix customer support contact page. On that page is a customer service telephone number, and under the number is a six-digit code that is the phone service code that they want you to key into the telephone when you call their customer service number. We didn’t have a code, and we still were assisted within a minute by the excellent Netflix customer service representative, Jason.



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97 thoughts on “Netflix ‘Watch Instantly’ Not Working with Your iPad? Here’s How to Fix It

  1. works like a charm but iv found turning off your device and restarting works every time and quicker

  2. You are the best. When I thought internet are full of scams and cons, this fix really makes my day. Thank you for restoring my faith in the internet community.

  3. Thanks it worked perfectly. I called Netflix who couldnt solve it but your advise helped, thanks again.

  4. Worked perfectly, thank you Anne! So grateful for this tip… as is my 5 year-old who was devastated when LegoCity would not play! ;)

  5. I have an iPad mini and it worked for me! I was a Little nervous at first because this article was written such a long time ago but it worked like a charm 10/10 would recommend this

  6. Did not work for me. Did cause some concern when I had trouble getting my WiFi back. Eventually removed app and downloaded again. Easy fix and worked like a charm.

  7. Human Test???? You have to be kidding! I want a refund! Expect no more monthly payments!

  8. Omg!!! I wish I found this site 3 months ago. I gave up watching Netflix from my iPad and this did the trick. THANKS!!!!

  9. Thank you for this fix. So clear and concise. I’m 70 years old and was finished with my formal schooling long before home computers became a reality. Nonetheless, I was able to follow you fix easily. My ISP was not able to provide a fix. I’m very grateful for your help.

  10. This isn’t going to necessarily work for every iPad, but I understand why it does for some. My guess is that people having this problem are on Wi-Fi only iPads, like mine. I tried reinstalling the app, restarting my router, restarting the iPad. None of this worked. I tried resetting the Network settings, this didn’t work. Nor did resetting all settings on the iPad. I decided to dig into the Netflix settings. There is a setting for the video to stream only through Wi-Fi connections. For whatever reason, this setting isn’t on by default. If your iPad is Wi-Fi only, my guess is that, with this setting off, the app is trying to use a non-existent cellular connection to stream. Just turn the setting on and it should fix it.

  11. Thank god for this article. Sorry about what happened to your iPad Robbin. I was about to do the same thing, then I read this article and your comment. I got an ipad2 and netflix/amazon prime kept closing on me after 1minute of playback. Resetting the network did the job. Thank you!! Awesome fix! Saved my ipad2 from certain doom.

  12. Had this hang happen on our iPad2. Before checking online, I held the power button, thinking to reset the pad. It never turned back on. :-( By holding the power and home buttons, I could get the apple to appear for 5-10 seconds and then…nothing. Tried all the apple tricks and got…nothing. The battery would drain so something was going on in the background. Took it to a genius bar and the genius got…nothing. They replaced it for half price (out of warranty). Fast forward a week and (assuming it was some freak hardware glitch on the first pad) I was watching netflix on the new pad, had it on a timer. Hours later, opened the pad and it went back to netflix. I clicked cancel and it got stuck in a cancel loop (red circle). This time I did not try to power off ;-) I found this site and was able to get back to the settings. Resetting the network did the trick. Done with the app tho.

  13. Thanks for the article Anne. Netflix app is great on iPad. If live outside USA, you can use tools like UnoTelly to get Netflix on your iPad.

  14. I have had an ipad for two years and have never experienced the Netflix connection problem. The fix yoy provided did the job. Thank you so much for making this available.

  15. Solved! Thanks. I think that picture if a British Comedy, “Cold something or other. We watched it and always laughed.

  16. Have had an ongoing problem with NF on iPad3. App does not work well. Crashes frequent. Now “Red” NF screen just cycles. No net activity (little spinning icon at top) I’m on VPN. Have reset (last time that worked, not now), reloaded app etc etc. I give up. On Mac with VPN no probs. Real issue here. I have NO idea the reason for the probs.

  17. Deleting and reinstalling Netflix worked on iPad3. I’m watching a movie right now!

  18. Didn’t work for ipad3. Gonna try deleting and then reinstalling the Netflix app. I will report back shortly!

  19. Thanks so much for this help! Super accurate, too the point and best of all it worked instantly! I usually leave the computer stuff to my partner but not anymore ha

  20. I’ve tried all of the above, and still cannot watch an entire episode or movie on my iPad2 without constant or intermittent interruptions.

  21. None of this worked. Deleting from dock, delete and reinstall, and resetting. I keep getting the unable to connect message or the frozen screen. It is the app and it is obvious Netflix has no desire to fix it. So it is no more movies on my iPad, I’m limited to my computer.

  22. Great tip, worked like a charm. Was having lots of issues with stuttering, and quality, sometimes my shows would look like an 8-bit video game, as well as the sound cutting in and out, now its like I am watching it on a dvd. great tip.


    Resetting the network didn’t work for me. I had to DELETE the app, resinstall it from the AppStore, start it up and sign in again.

    Only then did I get it to work again. Hope this helps someone.

  24. Netflix ipad app keeps asking me to log in, despite never asking me before – I watched streaming movies fine just last night. Now it wo ‘t accept the correct password, even though the Netflix web site does.

  25. I had a slightly different problem- Netflix would crash when loading lists of videos. This fixed it- thanks!!!!

  26. @ #14. BINGO!!!! After over an hour of trying the other stuff, deleting and reinstalling the app worked for me on ipad2. Sweet!

  27. You are amazing! I got my iPad 2 less than a month ago and was really looking forward to Netflix then it never worked. It would only load about a minute of the movie then freeze. This worked perfectly and only took a few seconds.

  28. Didn’t work for me. Now the Netflix app on the Ipad2 forces me to login to Facebook. I thought the Netflix app was hacked, so I reinstalled. Still doesn’t work.

  29. This same issue occurred and we reset the network settings. Then a new issue came up. We can watch instantly, but the movies freeze after 1-2 minutes. After touching the timer dot, it will restart but freeze again.
    Any ideas on this? Thank you and we look forward to using your site in the future for these situations.

  30. When all else fails (such as in my case): Double click the “home” button, scroll through the list of applications that appear until you find Netflix, hold down the Netflix icon until everything begins to vibrate and “x”s appear in the top right hand corner of each one, close the Netflix icon (press the “x” and remove it from the list). This does not delete the application it just removes it from this list which is a cache of sorts that the Ipad references back to in order to connect quickly. Once you’ve removed it from the list try opening Netflix again as usual, that worked for me.

  31. Change your dns to google ( It worked for me first time. think there’s cached entries in the iPad IP stack.

  32. I can start the movie, and can hear the audio, but the screen is black..resetting network settings, rebooting, uninstalling/reinstalling the app didn’t do anything, and it’s the latest version of the app, so no other updates available.. any other ideas?

  33. I reset the network settings on my iPad 2 as instructed, but this did not fix the issue of movie selections not playing.

    I am going to delete and re-install the App to see if that works.

    Netflix works OK on my Mac, so the issue is with the iPad App.

  34. I tried your solution which did not work. I’m embarrassed to say that what did work was updating my Netflix app, which I hadn’t realized was waiting for me to do!

  35. It didnt work for my ipad mabe its diferent for the ipad2! thanks for the tip hope you update the tip!(:

  36. Wow! Thanks. Netflix was useless. I followed exactly and my Netflix instantly works again.

  37. Thank you. I tried installing and reinstalling the app,restarting the iPad, turning the network onn and off. . . Your fix did the trick. Brilliant!

  38. Turning on the reset button in the Netflix preferences and rebooting fixed it for me. Thanks to those who took the time to share… like me frinstance.

  39. This article is just random dumb luck… this is not the necessary steps to fix the problem, it just happened to work for some people, so quit posting articles like this as if it is a defiant resolution… very annoying.

    {Ed. note: Actually these are the directions straight from Netflix – so while it is not a “defiant resolution” (sic), it is a definite solution.}

  40. This fix didn’t help, and the google DNS didn’t either. Finally fixed it with OpenDNS- and a reset on the Netflix App

  41. I tried all of the methods listed so far. None of them seem to work for me. I get the “could not reach the Netflix service” message.

  42. worked like a charm (had an issue with netflix not loading and just returning to the home screen).

  43. Reseting the network settings worked for me. My iPad would bring up the Netflix app and slowly load the main screen then Netflix would close and I would return to my iPad home screen. Now it works like a charm

  44. None of these tips helped me out. Ive tried tweaking the router, changing the dns on the ipad, reset, clearing cookies, caches, everything suggested on several websites.

    What worked was using CioneTap Lite, a free app on itunes, as the portal for Netflix. You still need thie netflix app on the ipad but it seems to “work around” the netflix app problems.

    Im back streaming on netflix!

  45. This didn’t work for me. what DID work, was changing my DNS on my ipad to googles DNS ( servers. This is because my router uses DNS-Masq w/ dns-rebind prevention code. manually supply a dns, rather than using your router for DNS will fix this issue.

  46. Was actually watching Coupling when I started having this problem and googled for a resolution. Thanks!! :D

  47. Almost worked. There’s a reset in the Netfix settings too. That made it work. I suspect a cookie problem.

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