Home for the holidays has a whole new distraction
Netflix has announced that some movies and series on the site, including Stranger Things with its confirmed second season in production, can now be downloaded and watched offline across all of the plans the streaming service offices. Stranger Things will join other top-rated original offerings like Orange Is the New Black and Narcos as well as content from studios like The Office by NBC and the CW’s Supernatural.
Users will need to be running at least iOS 8.0 or Android 4.4.2 on their mobile devices to take advantage of the download feature. Given that the only other option for this is downloading outside of Netflix or using a real-time digital video recorder like PlayOn Cloud, the feature is sure to prove popular in the coming days and months.
It will also, perhaps, help subscribers get around the so-called “Netflix Tax” being mulled by local governments in the US to charge a little extra on streaming services to make up for lost cable subscription revenue. If you’ve downloaded the content, after all, you can’t be charged for the next binging round of Parks and Recreation since you have it downloaded already.
The offline viewing option follows up on Amazon Prime Video and YouTube Red packages that allow their subscribers the same service. When Amazon made this announcement, Netflix actually pushed back against the idea of introducing the feature for its platform, saying, “that level of complexity” might not be “worth providing” because it would lead to “fewer people [choosing] anything at all” to watch.
The company backed away from this stance by mulling offline downloading for markets with low bandwidth. Speaking with Geektime, Netflix commented that, “After launching in over 130 countries earlier this year, many of which do not have sufficient internet connectivity, we wanted to be able to better serve members and provide more control over their watching experience.”
The timing is probably no coincidence for the holidays. Android Central reported in June that offline viewing would be available by year’s end and now, we’re just three weeks away from Christmas. There are 74 Christmas-themed movies on Netflix for December on top of these popular shows, after all. Also, bear in mind that the download option will be suitable for airplane mode and viewing in places where the connection isn’t good enough for streaming, like a relative’s old house or a station waiting room with no Wi-Fi. And people at holiday parties will readily enough crowd around a device to watch some downloaded episodes while the Christmas goose is being cooked.