Netflix Adds Offline Viewing

Posted on November 30, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Music + Videos with 40 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.”


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.


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.


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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  1. 5 | Reply
    Sprtfan Alpha Member #153 - 1 month ago

    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.  

    1. 1 | Reply
      Cain69 Alpha Member #1034 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Sprtfan:

      I completely agree - it does not make sense!!   It's almost as these companies go out of their way to not to develop for Windows...does not make sense. 

    2. 0 | Reply
      mebby Alpha Member #219 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Cain69:

      Yeah, I thought 'what the poop' when I saw that. Since 'currently' is in the previous sentence, I believe the intent to say it made sense to be available on mobile devices 'first' before Windows, MacOS, etc.

    3. 0 | Reply
      zbecka Alpha Member #2154 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Sprtfan:
      Agree, iOS and Android only makes zero sense.  I stopped carrying my iPad for entertainment when I got my Surface Pro.


    4. 0 | Reply
      fuzzsdad Alpha Member #540 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Sprtfan: Why don't they carry this to Windows? They have an app so I don't get it. Tablets are going out and phones are used for phones. If you have a laptop for business, this would be great on a long flight.


  2. 2 | Reply
    Vuppe Alpha Member #1076 - 1 month ago

    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.

    1. 0 | Reply
      dvdwnd Alpha Member #1403 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Vuppe:

      I guess this could be a test of whether UWP is still a thing, on the PC at least, or whether it's on the same trajectory to insignificance as Windows Phone.

  3. 1 | Reply
    ben55124 Alpha Member #1468 - 1 month ago

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

  4. 1 | Reply
    dcpaint Alpha Member #650 - 1 month ago

    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. 

  5. 0 | Reply
    Chris_Kez Alpha Member #320 - 1 month ago

    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.

    1. 0 | Reply
      Dashrender Alpha Member #790 - 1 month ago
      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.

  6. 0 | Reply
    valisystem Alpha Member #136 - 1 month ago

    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.

  7. 0 | Reply
    richfrantz Alpha Member #2341 - 1 month ago

    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).

  8. 0 | Reply
    canamrotax Alpha Member #746 - 1 month ago

    Not in Canada, so far.

    1. 0 | Reply
      canamrotax Alpha Member #746 - 1 month ago
      In reply to canamrotax:

      One day later, and now it does work in Canada. 

  9. 0 | Reply
    glenn8878 Alpha Member #2387 - 1 month ago

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

  10. 0 | Reply
    Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 1 month ago

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

    1. 2 | Reply
      jgraebner Alpha Member #1129 - 1 month ago
      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.

    2. 0 | Reply
      Dashrender Alpha Member #790 - 1 month ago
      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.