UPDATE: Apparently, it is now possible to watch Netflix on Linux using Wine. More information can be found here: http://www.iheartubuntu.com/2012/11/netflix-on-ubuntu-is-here.html
I’ve left my original blog post, and comments intact below.
The TL;DR version: Sorry this isn’t possible right now.
For a few years now I have been working on Moonlight and “How do I play Netflix” is by far the question we get asked the most. There is a lot of confusion about why netflix doesn’t work on Moonlight and I imagine a lot of people are beating their heads against the wall trying to get it to work. So I have lured you here for your own good, I’m trying to save you some pain.
Most people think the problem is codecs, but that’s not it. The issue is DRM NOT codecs..
Microsoft provides binary codecs for Moonlight which enable you to watch normal videos. When you first install Moonlight you don’t get those codecs. However, when you go to a site that requires the codecs for the first time, you will be prompted to download and install them. For example The Smooth Streaming Demo uses the codecs provided by Microsoft.
Those codecs won’t help you with Netflix though. Netflix uses the Microsoft Playready Digital Rights Management (DRM) to protect content.
If you don’t know what DRM is, its basically a way for the content providers (ie movie studios) to protect their content. They don’t want people downloading movies on Netflix and then sharing those movies with their friends or over torrents. Its unfortunate that DRM is necessary, but without it, its very doubtful the content providers would allow Netflix to stream video.
PlayReady DRM is licensed to embedded systems (things like set top boxes, phones, gaming devices), but is not generally available outside of Windows except for Silverlight on the Mac.
So what can you do?
I think its important you let Netflix know this is important to you. There is an online petition here (oh god did i just link to an online petition). Also you should email Netflix support directly, just so they know you care.
In the meantime there are a number of inexpensive devices you can purchase that can connect your TV to netflix. I won’t link to them here because I’m tired of all the angry comments about me suggesting spending money for something you want.
I know it would be great if Netflix just worked on Linux and as a Moonlight developer I would love to see all my hard work be used for something like that. However, it looks like its not going to be an option anytime soon and life is too short to exert too much effort on something like this.