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Netflix finally confirms it is ‘looking at’ offline viewing

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Despite ruling out offline playback in the past, Netflix now admits it is “looking at” the long-requested feature.

Boosting the hopes of millions of Netflix viewers around the world, Netflix has teased that video downloading may be in the pipeline. Currently, the only way to watch a Netflix movie or TV show is to stream the content over an internet connection. But in an interview with CNBC, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos revealed that the company is open to the idea of offline video playback. He said:

“We talked a lot about this over the years and our belief is that broadband and Wi-Fi [have] become more and more ubiquitous, available in more and more places that you are, more and more minutes of the day.”

“Now as we’ve launched in more territories…they all have different levels of broadband speeds and Wi-Fi access. So in those countries, they have adapted their behaviours to be much more of a downloading culture. So in those emerging territories it starts to become a little more interesting,” explained Sarandos.

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Earlier this year, Netflix expanded its reach into 130 new countries, which means the streaming giant now covers 190 territories globally. And in the last quarter alone, Netflix acquired 3.2 million subscribers outside of the United States, where the company is based.

He continued: “We still think for the developed world our thesis has been true, but I think as we get into more and more [of the] undeveloped world and developing countries, we want to find alternatives for people to use Netflix easily,” adding, on the matter of offline viewing, that Netflix is “looking at it now, so we’ll see when”.

Just last month, Dan Taitz, the COO of Panther, a company that builds media storage software, revealed that Netflix had already decided to go ahead with offline viewing. Speaking to industry blog Light Reading, he 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.”

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And Dan Rayburn, Principal Analyst at Frost & Sullivan, has been quoted as saying: “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.”

Netflix has typically shied away from being optimistic about offline viewing, but the company appeared to have a change of heart earlier this year, when CEO Reed Hastings said: “We should keep an open mind on [downloadable content]. 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 rivals like Amazon Video and BBC iPlayer already offer offline viewing, so fans of the service are keen for it to catch up.

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Do you think Netflix should roll out offline viewing? And would you be willing to pay more for it? Let us know in the comments.

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