How to Fix HDCP Error on Apple TV

Apple TV logo

Sometimes, Apple TV users may see an error like:

  • This content requires HDCP for playback
  • This video can’t be played
  • Oh no error such as Oh no! Something went wrong (you may see this especially if you are trying to use AirPlay)
Oh no error message
HDCP for playback error

This can be something you see right after connecting up all your components (TV, Apple TV, etc.). There are other types of errors that an Apple TV user might experience when trying to stream certain content – such as YouTube, Netflix, or HBO Max. HDCP errors, however, usually point to issues with hardware or the physical connections between them.

What is an HDCP error

HDCP stands for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection. It checks that the receiving device is authorized and then it encrypts the content (like the movie you’re streaming) in order to prevent it from being copied. HDCP errors occur when there is a connection issue between devices. This can either be due to a physical connection problem, or a communication problem between the two devices. This type of error is not specific to Apple TV. Many users of other streaming devices, like Roku, have also experienced HDCP errors.


The HDMI Cable

The easiest thing to try is simply unplugging and then reconnecting the HDMI cable between the Apple TV and your TV.

  1. Unplug both ends of the HDMI cable.
  2. Turn off/unplug from power both your television and your Apple TV. Wait 2 minutes.
  3. Reconnect the cable and power back on.

Other things you might try with the cable include:

  • Connect your Apple TV directly to your TV, if it isn’t already.
  • Turn the cable around – could help with physical connection issues caused by imperfect connections.
  • Try a different HDMI cable.
  • Try a different HDMI port on your TV.

If your TV is Old(er)

Because of the way that HDCP works, if your TV is too old, it may not follow the HDCP standards and thus you will get an error when your Apple TV detects that your TV isn’t authorized to receive the copy protected content. One way that might work is to place what’s called a splitter between the Apple TV and your TV. HDMI splitters seem to have mixed reviews when it comes to whether or not they will work to remove the HDCP signal and allow the content to pass from Apple TV to your TV.

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Dr. Stacey Butler is a tech writer at macReports covering news, how-tos, and user guides. She is a longtime Mac and iPhone user and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Here is her LinkedIn profile.

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