Why Netflix Is Expanding Its Offline Viewing Capabilities



More coming to download feature

Netflix’s (NFLX) surprise move last year to enable its users to download movies and programs for offline viewing could be one of its best decisions, according to the company’s executives. Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings, and other top executives at the company are keen to expand offline viewing opportunities.

In early 2017, Netflix removed one of the major hurdles users faced when downloading content from the site. When Netflix’s download feature first appeared, it only supported downloading its content to the device’s internal storage. However, Netflix has since updated the feature to allow users of Android handsets to download shows to external storage devices such as a microSD card.

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Shows available for download

Hastings and the company’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, recently discussed expanding the list of shows that can be downloaded for offline viewing, according to a report by the Irish Independent. Netflix customers can only download movies and shows directly owned by the company. Content sourced from outside studios such as Walt Disney (DIS) and Sony (SNE) are ineligible for download.

Although Netflix has spent billions of dollars (UUP) to produce its own original shows, its menu of directly owned content is still limited. As shown in the chart above, the number of Netflix users increased from 74.8 million in 4Q15 to 93.8 million in 4Q16.

Popularizing the brand

Netflix is using its offline viewing feature to increase the popularity of its brand. In addition to being popular with airline passengers or in other environments where bandwidth is limited, this feature is useful in markets where Internet access is still expensive or the quality of the connection is poor. This move implies that the company is hoping to enhance the feature, which could enable users in emerging markets (EEM) to choose it over the competition.


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