The ability to finally download Netflix videos came as a surprise. After all, it’s the same company that just a few years ago said that offline support was “never going to happen.” But recently, Netflix’s tone started changing. Back in April, CEO Reed Hastings said it would “keep an open mind” about the feature. And earlier this month, chief content office Ted Sarandos noted that it might be necessary for international markets. And if you really think about it, there are plenty of reasons why Netflix couldn’t avoid offline viewing any longer.
There’s a reason Netflix subscribers have been demanding offline support. It’s becoming all but a necessity, and that’s largely Netflix’s fault. It’s turned on-demand video into a drug, and now we need our fix wherever possible, be it on the subway or a plane. Offline support will also be useful for people who don’t have lots of mobile data to waste on streaming video.
“Netflix members worldwide can now download in addition to stream great series and films at no extra cost,” the streaming giant announced Wednesday morning. The highly anticipated feature is launching after earlier reports speculated Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX)would bring it to market by the end of the year.
A download option, which only works for phones and tablets with Android or iOS, is initially available on some movies and TV series, but more are on the way, Netflix’s director of product innovation Eddy Wu said in the Wednesday blog post.
This move is important for several reasons. First, by making some content available for download, Netflix is playing catch-up to other streaming video services — like Amazon.com’s Prime Video — already offering this service for some of their content.
But the move also helps better position Netflix as a feasible entertainment solution in parts of the world where internet connections are spotty. Downloadable content in developing countries could add considerable value to Netflix’s service — a key achievement as the streaming giant continues to localize its offerings across the globe.