Netflix Adds Offline Viewing

Posted on November 30, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Music + Videos with 43 Comments

Netflix Adds Offline Viewing

Netflix, one of the world’s most popular video on demand services, has finally added a feature that users have been clamoring for: The ability to download TV shows and movies and watch them offline.

The best news? It won’t cost extra.

“While many members enjoy watching Netflix at home, we’ve often heard they also want to continue their Stranger Things binge while on airplanes and other places where Internet is expensive or limited,” Netflix’s Eddy Wu explains. “Just click the download button on the details page for a film or TV series and you can watch it later without an internet connection.”

dl-screen

According to Netflix, this new capability comes with some expected caveats:

Android and iOS only. Downloading/offline capabilities are currently available in the Android and iOS mobile apps only. Which, frankly, makes sense.

Select content only. You can download “select” TV shows and movies to watch without an Internet connection, Netflix says. “Many of your favorite streaming series and movies are already available for download, with more on the way.”

To see what the experience is like, I upgraded to the latest version of the Netflix app on my iPhone and browsed around a bit. Fortunately, Netflix provides a handy “Available for Download” playlist, much like the 4K playlist you get when using the service on 4K/UHD television.

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As you can see, it’s heavy with Netflix-created content, which is just great. But there are also fan favorites like “The IT Crowd,” “Mad Men,” “The Imitation Game” and many others in there. To download a show or movie, just tap the new “Download” button.

dl-button

Some other video on demand services, like Amazon Prime Video, have offered offline view for some time now. But others, like Hulu, do not. But Hulu says that capability is coming.

“We’re working on it, and we’re not alone,” Hulu’s Ben Smith told CIO this week.” We’ll get there, for sure, in our industry.”

 

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Comments (43)

43 responses to “Netflix Adds Offline Viewing”

  1. 170

    I'm not sure how downloading/offline capabilities being only available in the Android and iOS mobile apps makes sense.  I'd much rather watch something off my laptop than off my phone.  Not to mention that depending on what phone you have you might not have enough space to download.  I at least would not go out and buy an Android tablet just to be able to watch Netflix.  

  2. 8769

    Netflix Germany confirmed via twitter they were "working on" bringing the download capability to Windows, as well:

    https://twitter.com/bigwiggler/status/803969467860533248

  3. 1139

    This is neat, but I hope they add it for the UWP app soon. I use my Surface for entertainment viewing on train and plane rides. Right now that means buying movies on the Windows store. Which I don't mind, especially since I usually get newer movies that aren't on Netfilx yet, but it would be nice to grab the next few episodes in whatever TV show I'm currently watching on Netflix if I'm really into it.

  4. 8179

    Another great reason for this is mobile data caps. You can download the shows to you portable device when at home on wi-fi, and then not have to worry about using a cellular connection for streaming when you are out and about...

  5. 680

    I have to agree with the first comment,  how does this make sense to keep it off Window? I guess if you can afford to buy every brand of computer out there then,  it's no big deal. I would have rather heard you say it's only on iOS and Android at the start and show a desire to see it as an Win 10 app in the near future. 

  6. 4949

    I would love to see this come to PC.  Netflix generally works pretty well, especially for TV shows.  But for movies there are typically ~2-5 times where it will drop down below 1080p.  Would love to be able to download the movie earlier in the day, and then watch it at full quality all the way through in the evening.

  7. 2611

    Good news. Curious if watching the download counts against your concurrent stream limit.

  8. 5349

    I'd like this on Windows for a completely different reason. I have a rural ISP. I'd like to download overnight for viewing the following night. Then I'd not have to worry about stream rates(pixilation).

  9. 7173

    I downloaded a movie yesterday that was leaving Netflix (see my earlier post).  Today, when I went to view it, it is no longer available.  You can see the icon for it in the Netflix app under My Downloads but it says "Not Available."  When I drill down to the location where the file lived yesterday, I see the video file is gone (although a couple other files were left behind).

    So . . . apparently you can't use the download feature to give yourself more time to watch shows that are going away. 

    Disappointing.

    Still a useful feature, but not as useful as I'd hoped.

  10. karanzale

    Free Netflix Accounts And Passwords: here, you can get some Working Free Netflix  Accounts 2017 and emails id accounts

  11. Rabada

    Netflix is the best when it comes to watching series and originals having massive library. Content may vary from country to country. But overall a good platform competing against Hulu, Prime video, Hotstar. Apart from Netflix, Hulu is also a good bet for its Live TV channels & Networks which is best amaong modern TV curators.

  12. 2123

    Hopefully they add this to the Xbox One app for the S/Scorpio.  I suspect downloading will help those of us with slow connections actually make use of 4K videos.

  13. 150

    Amazon does the same thing - downloads video only to iOS/Android. And I'm the same as others - I want to watch video on a laptop. So the interesting question is whether Amazon & Netflix will permit downloading to Chromebooks with Android integration. If so, it will be one more little thing tipping the scales.

  14. 7173

    I downloaded Frequencies to my Android tablet (Samsung Tab S 8.4). It's a movie on my list that's going away after today. But one I don't feel strongly enough about it to watch it today.

    The download went fine. I'll find out tomorrow or the next day if they have some sort of purge code to remove it after it's no longer available for streaming.

    The latest update to the Netflix app (which I had to download, since it hadn't automatically updated yet) adds 2 features on the menu:

    Available for Download
    My Downloads

    I see Frequencies under My Downloads. If I press and hold, it gives me a trash can icon, so I assume that erases it.

    With some difficulty I was able to drill down and find where the file was stored on my Android tablet. Tried playing it with the built-in video player. Sadly (but as expected) it is encrypted.

    I'm assuming I can move it to another location, but unless I can point Netflix to that location or until someone cracks the encryption, that won't be much use. I suppose I could move it just to make room for other downloads. Then move it back when I want to watch it. Maybe I'll try that some time.

    I also assume playing it to a capture card won't work because of DRM and HDCP restrictions. But I know very little about such things.

    Bottom line is that it seems to work fine but eats up internal storage and probably can't be moved and played on a laptop or other device with more storage and a bigger screen, so that will limit how much stuff you can have on your device.

  15. 289

    This is great.  Downloads are one of the reasons I so often use Vudu.  I hope Netflix brings this to Windows 10; being able to download to a Windows tablet or laptop for viewing on the plane would be great.

    • 820

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      Agreed!  Vudu has been my travel companion of choice because of it's offline content options.  - OH and Paul - They have it for Windows too - which is the ONLY place I use it.

      I hope you will edit your article to indicate the mass comments coming in and say something to the effect that it looks like many people do want it on the PC, not just those tiny screen  mobile devices.

  16. 6447

    wonder if it would work on a play store enabled chromebook, my preferred large screen personal device.

  17. 5496

    And where's the Windows version?

    You can use Netflix on the any browser in Windows. They also make a Windows app.

  18. 776

    Not in Canada, so far.

  19. 8340

    "Android and iOS only. Downloading/offline capabilities are currently available in the Android and iOS mobile apps only. -> Which, frankly, makes sense. <-"

     

    How so Paul?  Why not Win10 mobile as well?  How does that make sense?

     

    • 1139

      In reply to Hoomgar:

      No one* uses Windows 10 mobile. The only context it makes sense for Windows is the universal app, so people can download and watch on laptops.

      * Yes, I know, < 1% is not literally "no one," but it's statistically insignificant.

    • 5539

      In reply to replies to Hoomgar: For those piling on Windows 10 Mobile, how about Windows 10? Might be one or two Netflix subscribers who might want to take advantage of this on a laptop. There are still people who use them I hear. There is a Netflix 'app' for Win 10 BTW, which may surprise Android and iOS devotees. Were it a UWP we wouldn't have to play the Win 10 Mobile is dead card. It would just be a pleasant side effect of supporting the most popular OS on the planet.  P.S. There is a Win 10 Mobile Netfilx app too.

       

    • 5554

      In reply to Hoomgar:

      Uhh.. because Windows Mobile is dead and abandoned?  When MS doesn't care about their own platform, don't expect third parties.

  20. 5394

    Good idea. I have an extra iPad laying around that could be used to view offloaded Netflix.

  21. 2345

    "Which, frankly, makes sense"  Hmm, to me this makes no sense.  If I am on the go, I am not using a little screen on a phone to watch something.  I am using my surface.  Windows 10 should have been part of that list. (I can understand leaving Windows 10 mobile out)

  22. 7173

    The BIG question for me is whether you can download shows that are leaving Netflix and still watch them after they are no longer available on Netflix.  That would be awesome - but sadly a bit too late for a couple of my favorites that disappeared before I know they were leaving.

    Which reminds me, I need to check what's leaving to see if I need to binge anything - and/or download it.

  23. 6014

    My wife is going to love this if the downloadable selection is good, and be really frustrated if it's only really popular stuff.

  24. 5234

    As soon as someone breaks the DRM on downloads, the video industry is going to reject this and demand concessions from Netflix.

    • 1306

      In reply to Waethorn:

      I doubt that's a big concern as Amazon Prime Video has been offering this for a couple years already and, of course, downloads of separately paid rentals/purchases have been available for years from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, etc.

      • 820

        In reply to jgraebner:

        Agreed - Itunes making millions showed that the common person just wanted easy access to download music legitimately.  Will there be pirates?  sure, there will always be.  Those who want to be pirates will never pay, they'd rather go without than pay.  So continue to make it easy for the paying customer, and you'll continue to get sales.

         

  25. envilanni

    You can watch all Netflix Movies for free on your Android and iOS devices using IPTV Player Latino

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