Long averse to offline viewing, Netflix started coming around to the idea earlier this year. In November, chief content officer Ted Sarandos acknowledged that the feature would benefit subscribers in developing countries with lower rates of broadband-internet penetration. “In those countries, they have adapted their behaviors to be much more of a downloading culture,” he told CNBC.
Netflix competitor Amazon Video has allowed subscribers to download content since last year, and as Netflix expands into nearly every country on Earth, offline viewing has become necessary to stay competitive in emerging markets. It’s quite a shift in strategy from just two years ago, when the company said offline viewing was “never going to happen.”
The new feature will apply to all global subscribers, not just those in new markets. There are two caveats, however. Downloading is, for now, restricted to iOS and Android devices. And only a select number of shows and films will be available for offline viewing. After you update to the latest version of the Netflix app, click “Available for Download” in the drop-down menu to see the list of shows that you can watch offline.
Frequent fliers and subway commuters around the world will surely appreciate the ability to binge-watch without an internet connection. Just remember to download everything before your trip.