Pigs must be flying. While Netflix once said it had no plans to offer offline downloading, the company has clearly changed its tune. It announced that new Netflix applications for iOS and Android are launching on Wednesday with support for offline viewing. That means you’ll be able to save content for watching when you don’t have a Wi-Fi or mobile signal to stream, like on an airplane.
“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 said, noting that the feature is available to subscribers around the globe, not just in the US. “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.”
Netflix said that “many of your favorite streaming series and movies are already available for download,” which suggests that the feature isn’t available for the entire Netflix library. Indeed, it might even just be Netflix’s own original content to start, since it highlighted that Orange is The New Black, Narcos and The Crown, are available for download today. Netflix promises that more content is coming.
Netflix offline storage is a big deal
This is a big deal and a feature I’ve been waiting for forever. I’m a bit bummed that it doesn’t seem to expand to a huge part of the library just yet (the service isn’t live so I can’t see for myself until later today).
Still, it’s a start, and I won’t complain about saving some Netflix series, like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for offline viewing. There are still other questions, however, like how many devices can store content from a single account offline. Or how many episodes and TV shows can be stored offline at once. Amazon Prime Video limits this, for example, and I suspect Netflix will, too.
My guess is that content is currently limited because of licensing deals that Netflix either hasn’t signed yet, or can’t sign due to disagreements. That’s purely speculation on my part, which means it’s possible the Netflix offline library could rapidly increase in size over the coming weeks and months.