How to Run Netflix on the Raspberry Pi?

The Raspberry Pi is a versatile, low-cost computer that enables users to accomplish a variety of tasks. One popular use case is to transform the Pi into a media center capable of streaming content from popular services like Netflix. With the right setup and configuration, you can have your very own Raspberry Pi-powered Netflix device.

How to Run Netflix on the Raspberry Pi?

Hardware and Software Requirements

Running Netflix on a Raspberry Pi requires meeting some specific hardware and software requirements:

  • Raspberry Pi Model 2 or newer – Earlier models like the Model A, A+, B, and B+ either lack the RAM or CPU power needed to run Netflix smoothly. A Pi 3 or 4 is recommended.
  • MicroSD Card – At least 16GB Class 10 card for storing the operating system and applications.
  • Power Supply – A 5V/2.5A power supply ensures stable power delivery to the Pi. Lower amperages may result in crashes or playback issues.
  • Operating System – Raspbian Buster or Ubuntu Mate 18.04+ contains key prerequisites like hardware acceleration support.
  • Case (optional but recommended) – An enclosure case improves heat dissipation and protects your Pi.

In addition to hardware, you’ll need:

  • A mouse and keyboard to set up your Pi initially
  • An HDMI cable to connect the Pi to a display
  • Netflix subscription to stream content

With the right gear ready, you can set up and configure your Raspberry Pi Netflix streamer.

Step 1 – Set Up Raspberry Pi OS

The first step is to install and configure an operating system optimized for the Raspberry Pi hardware. Two great options are Raspbian Buster or Ubuntu Mate.

Both OSes contain key libraries like OpenMAX, OpenGL ES, and more for supporting Netflix video playback. Here’s how to get your preferred OS set up:

Install OS with Raspberry Pi Imager

  1. Download Raspberry Pi Imager to your desktop machine
  2. Insert microSD card (16GB+) into computer
  3. Open Raspberry Pi Imager and select preferred OS
  4. Click “WRITE” to install OS to the microSD card

Once completed, safely eject SD card and insert into your Pi.

Initial Configuration

The first boot takes 5-10 minutes for necessary setup and configuration. You’ll then reach the desktop environment where you need to:

  1. Connect to wi-fi
  2. Update OS packages – sudo apt update && sudo apt full-upgrade
  3. Reboot Pi – sudo reboot now
  4. Ensure hardware acceleration is enabled (covered next)

With an updated environment optimized for multimedia, you’re all set to install Netflix.

Step 2 – Install Hardware Acceleration Drivers

Smooth Netflix streaming relies on hardware acceleration to offload video processing from the CPU to the GPU.

The Raspberry Pi supports acceleration via its VideoCore IV graphics processor. To enable this, you need to install a special driver:

sudo apt install libraspberrypi-dev

This provides OpenGL ES and OpenMAX support tailored for the VideoCore IV GPU.

You can verify hardware acceleration is correctly set up via /opt/vc/bin/vcgencmd .

Run vcgencmd codec_enabled H264– it should output:

codec_enabled=1

If it returns 0, acceleration may not be working properly. Double check libraspberrypi-dev install and OS updates.

With capable hardware and an updated, accelerated software environment, you’re ready to install Netflix.

Step 3 – Install Netflix

The leading method for getting Netflix streaming functionality on a Raspberry Pi is via the Plex Media Server and a plugin called PlexKodiConnect (PKC).

Plex does the heavy lifting of video processing while the PKC plugin enables a smooth Netflix-like interface for finding and watching content.

Here are the installation steps:

Install Plex Media Server

Log into your Pi device and enter:

curl https://downloads.plex.tv/plex-media-server/1.25.2.5395-24ffd60f9/plexmediaserver_1.25.2.5395-24ffd60f9_armv7l.deb -o plexmediaserver.deb

sudo dpkg -i plexmediaserver.deb

This downloads and installs the Linux ARM version of Plex to your Pi.

With Plex running, the server should be accessible at http://raspberrypi:32400/web. You won’t yet have the capability to play Netflix, so next up is the PKC plugin.

Install PlexKodiConnect Plugin

PKC acts as middleware between Plex and Kodi, enabling smooth access to Netflix from within Kodi.

To install the plugin:

  1. Open Kodi on your Pi
  2. Select Add-ons > My Addons > Install from repository > Kodi Addon repository
  3. Under Services, select Program add-ons
  4. Locate and install PlexKodiConnect

With PKC installed, you can now link your Plex account to enable access to online media.

Once connected, launch the Netflix app from within Kodi – it should successfully open and stream titles without issue!

Your Raspberry Pi can now reliably stream Netflix allowing you to enjoy on-demand movies and shows. But what about that original Netflix opening sequence? Let’s set that up next…

Step 4 – Set Up Netflix “Ta-Dum” On Start (Optional)

Part of the classic Netflix experience is hearing the iconic “ta-dum” opening sound when booting up the app. Fortunately, you can enable this feature everytime Kodi launches.

Here’s how:

  1. Find the Netflix “ta-dum” sound FX online and download to your Pi device
  2. Within Kodi, select System > Settings > Interface settings > Skin > Configure skin
  3. Scroll down to Additional startup windows
  4. On the right, select Add videos or music
  5. Select your downloaded Netflix sound effect file
  6. Back out and access Videos > Playbacks > Music videos > Choose your startup sound file
  7. Enable Play video in fullscreen and Show extras while playing
  8. Select OK and your sound effect will now play when Kodi launches!

Now whenever you start your DIY Netflix box, the iconic tune kicks things off, creating an authentic experience.

Settle into your couch, grab the remote, and your custom Raspberry Pi media device offers an exceptional Netflix streaming platform perfect for binges.

Key Takeaways on Running Netflix on Raspberry Pi

Here are some top highlights for getting smooth Netflix functionality set up on a Raspberry Pi:

  • Use Raspberry Pi 2 or newer as Netflix requires a more powerful device
  • Install Raspbian Buster or Ubuntu Mate 18.04+ with necessary multimedia libraries
  • Enable hardware acceleration via libraspberrypi-dev driver for video processing
  • Setup Plex Media Server combined with PlexKodiConnect plugin to integrate Netflix into Kodi
  • With the right configuration, get exceptional Netflix streaming comparable to a traditional media box
  • Consider optional customizations like adding the iconic Netflix sound when launching Kodi

So with some guided setup, a bit of configuration, and the right plugins, your versatile Raspberry Pi can deliver seamless access to all your favorite Netflix content.

Now enjoy your newly unlocked world of on-demand shows, movies, and more!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does the Raspberry Pi Netflix set up work worldwide?
A: Yes, this approach works globally per typical Netflix availability depending on your subscription type. Note that content libraries may vary by region.

Q: Can I control Netflix on the Pi with a remote?
A: Absolutely – Kodi includes robust remote/controller support. Most modern media remotes map nicely to control navigation and playback.

Q: Does this impact Pi performance for other uses?
A: Generally not – Plex handles the heavy video lifting. Light web duties or desktop usage should work fine in parallel. But intensive workloads may impact streaming.

Q: What about 4K Netflix – does that work?
A: Unfortunately no – Raspberry Pi devices currently max out at 1080p resolution. So 4K Netflix is not achievable.

Q: Can I get 5.1 surround sound through Netflix?
A: Possibly – the Pi and Kodi are capable of 5.1 audio pass through. But compatibility will depend most heavily on your choice of HDMI/AV receiver.

Q: Do Netflix movies download locally or stream online
A: Content exclusively streams online per Netflix access requirements. Downloads for offline viewing are typically prohibited.

Q: Can I customize the Netflix navigation/interface?
A: Yep! One benefit of the PKC plugin is you retain full Kodi customization abilities while enjoying integrated Netflix access.

Q: Is Netflix the only streaming app available?
A: Nope! Other common services like Youtube, Amazon Prime, Hulu also work nicely for even more streaming options.

Q: What is the playback resolution – 1080p?
A: Usually yes, 1080p HD playback is common assuming internet speeds are sufficient. This delivers an excellent viewing experience.

Q: Can I control Netflix with Google Assistant or Alexa voice commands?
A: Yes! With Kodi integration, 3rd party voice control is achievable for hands-free navigation while streaming Netflix.

Q: How do I troubleshoot video playback issues in Plex or Kodi?
A: First check CPU usage – if overloaded, lower streaming quality. Also confirm hardware acceleration is enabled properly. Finally verify your network speeds meet minimums.

Q: What is an affordable microSD card option for the operating system?
A: The 16GB SanDisk Extreme works excellently for running Raspbian or Ubuntu Mate smoothly while storing applications and data.

Q: Can I stream Netflix wirelessly?
A: Yes, Wi-Fi connectivity is fully supported. For best results, situate your Pi near the router and connect over low-interference 5 GHz channels.

Q: What router Wi-Fi settings work best for streaming?
A: Use a dual band router on 5GHz channels with 20MHz bandwidth for minimal interference. Turn off extra features like airtime fairness as well.

Q: Does this method work on a Raspberry Pi Zero?
A: No unfortunately the lower CPU/GPU on the Pi Zero cannot smoothly run Netflix. Stick with a Pi 3B+ or Pi 4 for best results.

Q: Can I control Netflix playback with Bluetooth remotes?
A: Yes, Kodi has great Bluetooth remote support. Media buttons map correctly allowing handy wireless control.

Q: How do I troubleshoot choppy or buffering video issues
A: Try wired Ethernet for connectivity, disable other Internet-connected devices, close unnecessary apps, and upgrade to a faster ISP plan if needed.

Q: Is overclocking the Raspberry Pi recommended for better Netflix streaming?
A: Sometimes. Conservative overclocking can help but don’t push too aggressively leading to system crashes or playback failures.

Q: What download speed is recommended from my ISP?
A: 25Mbps sustained downstream throughput ensures stable 1080p streaming. Faster plans add headroom but aren’t always necessary.

Q: Can I stream Netflix while employing my Pi for other tasks?
A: We don’t recommended it. Netflix streaming works best when fully dedicating your Pi’s CPU and memory resources to media playback.

Q: Is USB storage supported for storing media local files
A: Yes. Kodi and Plex have great support for media stored on attached USB drives. This keeps space free on your OS microSD card.

Q: Should I connect via Ethernet or Wi-Fi for best stability?
A: An Ethernet wired connection is most robust avoiding variability in signal strength or interference. But Wi-Fi works well in many home setups.

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