Netflix is readying up a new offline viewing mode that will let users download content to watch later, apparently.
The media streaming giant is working on a “download-to-go” option for users who want to watch TV and movies offline, with a view to launch the new feature before the end of 2016. That’s according to Dan Taitz, the COO of Penthera, a company that builds media storage software. Speaking to industry blog Light Reading, Taitz said:
“We know from our sources within the industry that Netflix is going to launch this product. My expectation is that by the end of the year, Netflix will be launching download-to-go as an option for their customers.”
The article also cites Dan Rayburn, Principal Analyst at Frost & Sullivan, who said:
“It’s a natural progression for Netflix to want to have some of their content available for consumers to watch offline, and we’ve been hearing for months now that they are in fact going to roll something out soon.”
Despite rival services like Amazon Video and BBC iPlayer offering offline viewing, Netflix has remained staunch in its refusal to add the feature. The company has remained publicly opposed to downloadable content, until CEO Reed Hastings very recently hinted that Netflix may be willing to back down. Here’s a quick timeline of quotes from Netflix execs on the matter:
(March 2, 2012) Adrian Cockroft, Cloud Architect: “There are some user cases where streaming isn’t best used – like when you are on a plane with your device. But it is such a small proportion of the market, it’s not really beneficial to pursue this. We would much rather make sure that our main service is the best it can be.” (Via TechRadar)
(January 14, 2014) Joris Evers, Director of Global Communications: “[Offline viewing is] very unlikely. I was going to say no, I was going to just categorically say no. But let me just tell you it’s very unlikely. Because we want to be a click-and-watch service that’s as simple and straightforward and easy as possible.” (Via Pocket-Lint)
(December 17, 2014) Cliff Edwards, Director of Corporate Communications: “It’s never going to happen,” adding that “it’s a short term fix for a bigger problem.” (Via TechRadar)
(September 7, 2015) Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer: “I still don’t think it’s a very compelling proposition. I think it’s something that lots of people ask for. We’ll see if it’s something lots of people will use. Undoubtedly it adds considerable complexity to your life with Amazon Prime – you have to remember that you want to download this thing.” (Via Gizmodo)
(April 18, 2016) Reed Hastings, CEO: “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.”
If Netflix does offer offline viewing, the roster of content that supports the feature may be limited, pending approval from the relevant studios. There’s also a chance that Netflix may roll out the feature in select countries initially; there’s a big incentive to get offline viewing into countries where many areas have inconsistent network coverage.
Unfortunately, Netflix hasn’t confirmed any such new feature, so take this report with due caution – and don’t bin your DVDs just yet.
Related: CES 2017
Watch The Refresh: The best tech gossip and reviews every week
Do you think Netflix should add offline viewing? And if so, would you be willing to pay more for it? Let us know in the comments.