Netflix has time and again admitted that one of the most requested features by users is the ability to download episodes and watch them later. But the company has stayed away from it, claiming that it would create a ‘paradox of choice’. Now, however, Netflix seems to be giving in to the demands, and users will soon be able to download episodes and movies. Also Read - Netflix vs Amazon Prime Video vs Disney+ Hotstar vs Sony LIV: Best OTT plans to considerAlso Read - JioFiber broadband plans with free Netflix subscription: Check plans, price, data benefits, more
The download feature could be available before the end of this year. This is according to Dan Taitz, CEO at Penthera, a company that helps video streaming providers let viewers download content. Speaking with Light Reading Taitz said, “We know from our sources within the industry that Netflix is going to launch this product. My expectation is that by the end of the year Netflix will be launching download-to-go as an option for their customers.” Also Read - How to get free Netflix subscription: Just follow these steps
Taitz wouldn’t say who his industry sources are, but his comments do echo what Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said during the earnings call earlier this year. Asked about the ability to download video content, Hastings said, “We should keep an open mind on all this as we expand around the world where we see an uneven set of networks, it s something we should keep an open mind about.
It’s not just giving into the demand of users, but it has also to do with the fact that Netflix’s rivals have already rolled out this feature. Amazon, for example, announced a video streaming service for $8.99 per month, which is cheaper than Netflix, and also offers offline viewing. The likes of YouTube too launched offline viewing feature in India, wherein users can download a video on their device, and within 48 hours can watch it offline as many times they want without the need for an internet connection. Then there is the case of making content available when a user is traveling, where either there is no connectivity (think of a flight) or no Wi-Fi networks.
A downloading feature was never a priority for Netflix, and in an interview last year, Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt explained the reason why. It has to do with a psychological term called ‘paradox of choice’, which would create anxiety among Netflix users. One of the things I ve learned is that every time you offer a choice, you paralyze some people who can t decide if that s what they want to do or not. Now, that sounds really stupid and self-serving, but it is in fact true, Hunt said.
But since then, Netflix has become a global company with operations in 130 countries. Restrictions on content aside, countries like India do not have internet speeds like in the US, and an offline viewing feature will be a boon.
Even if Netflix does plan on getting users download content for offline viewing, this would mean renegotiating contracts. It could start with content it has produced on its own but it would become confusing for users of only a part of the library can be made available offline and not everything.
During the earnings call earlier this year, Netflix revealed that it had gained 6.74 million new memberships 2.23 million in the US and 4.51 million internationally. Going forward, analysts expect Netflix to add around 500,000 members in the US, and over 2 million globally in the second quarter.