A long-requested feature could be coming to the iOS and Android versions of Netflix, letting users download TV shows and movies for offline viewing instead of being stranded in areas without Wi-Fi or a cellular signal when wanting to watch the video streaming service. Netflix has been lagging behind its competitors in this regard, with companies like Amazon and YouTube allowing some form of offline viewing to its paying members.
Answering a question from Re/code yesterday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings admitted that the company would consider the possibility for users to download its videos moving forward, without directly confirming it would implement the feature anytime soon. The wording of Hastings’ comment also suggests that if offline viewing ever came, Netflix would angle it as an assistive feature for countries with less reliable internet speeds, rather than a bullet point benefit to its broader subscriber base.
“We should keep an open mind on this. We’ve been so focused on click-and-watch and the beauty and simplicity of streaming. But as we expand around the world, where we see an uneven set of networks, it’s something we should keep an open mind about.”
Netflix’s previous stance on offline viewing was a belief that the introduction of such a feature would add too much complexity into a service that prides itself on simplicity of use. Last September, the company’s Chief Product Officer, Neil Hunt, said that Netflix believes it’s “not a very compelling proposition” moving forward. Undoubtedly content licenses would be a hurdle for the feature as well, but given the steadily growing amount of Netflix-created original content, users would have plenty of TV shows, movies, and documentaries to choose from if offline viewing ever becomes available.
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