Tech by VICE

2016 Wasn’t a Total Bust: You Can Now Watch Netflix Offline

Netflix and go.

by Ben Sullivan
Nov 30 2016, 4:35pm

Image: Jeffrey/Flickr

In what we're assuming to be one of the most exciting and logical events in an otherwise turbulent 2016, Netflix is now allowing its subscribers to download movies and TV series for offline viewing.

It'll cost customers nothing extra, but is currently only available for iOS and Android users on phones and tablets (so no downloading a bunch of movies to watch on your big laptop screen before a long flight). Netflix also said downloads will be available on Fire OS. Users click the download button on a movie or TV show's information page to download. Netflix told Motherboard it doesn't have anything to say yet regarding downloads on other devices.

TV shows or movies are available to be downloaded in two formats: high quality and standard quality. Motherboard asked Netflix if there is a download limit for users, to which it replied there may be limits to the number of titles from the same licensing agreement that can be downloaded at the same time. "We will only enforce these limits in cases where our licensing agreements require us to do so. Deleting downloads you are done watching is often enough to resolve this error," said a company spokesperson.

Image: Netflix

Whilst growing at a phenomenal rate, Netflix has always denied it would allow offline viewing like its competitor Amazon Prime. Even earlier in 2016, Netflix was on the record multiple times claiming adding a download option would simply be too complex for its users to handle.

But the market is changing rapidly, and if Netflix wants to keep a lead in front of rivals such as Amazon or Comcast, it has to be flexible. It makes complete sense, though, especially if Netflix wants to scoop up customers who have typically shied away from the service because of limited streaming bandwidth or a lack of a physical TV or monitor.

Of course, plucky users have been "unofficially" downloading Netflix content for a while now. Content streaming aggregator Plex has seen users illegally downloading Netflix titles for unsanctioned offline watching, and last year, Motherboard spoke to an Arctic resident who used an app called Replay Media Catcher to stream Netflix offline.

Update: Netflix contacted Motherboard after this article was published to state downloads are also available for Fire OS users.

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