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Ad-supported Netflix tier may not support offline viewing

The much-discussed ad-supported Netflix tier may not let you watch video content offline, according to a recently revealed snippet of code.

Delving into the code of the iOS Netflix app, developer Steve Moser (via Bloomberg) has discovered that Netflix is looking to withhold offline downloads as an exclusive perk for the pricier ad-free tiers.

It’s currently possible to download Netflix shows and movies to your mobile device so that you can watch them even when there’s no internet connection to hand. The aforementioned code, however, states: “Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads.”

Netflix isn’t unfamiliar with offering such unsubtle incentives to step up to a higher tier. For example, you have to pay more than double the Basic tier rate (£6.99) if you want to stream content in 4K, with the Premium tier costing £15.99.

Indeed, this isn’t even the first limitation of the unreleased ad-supported tier that we’ve learned about. Back in July, it emerged that the new cheaper tier would not offer access to the entire Netflix library.

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos admitted during the company’s Q2 2022 earnings call that while “the vast majority of what people watch on Netflix” would be included in the ad-supported tier, there were still items of content the company was “in conversation about with the studios on”.

“We will clear some additional content, but certainly not all of it”, he added.

There’s been much discussion surrounding a potential ad-supported Netflix tier, especially since the company started dropping subscribers at the turn of the year. Netflix lost 200,000 subscribers in Q1 and another 1 million in Q2.

It’s this that has finally driven the company to partner up with Microsoft on an ad-supported tier, as successive price hikes, competition from Disney+, and the current cost of living crisis have prompted many to reassess their monthly streaming outgoings.

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