The rivalry between streaming video services promises to heat up as content streaming giant Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) considers introducing Offline viewing, a feature that lets Netflix users watch shows and movies offline at a later date and on the go.
It should be noted that Netflix has been rather vague for a long time about why it doesn’t offer an offline viewing option. In 2014, the company reiterated its stance in terms of having no plans to support offline playback. Netflix’s Cliff Edwards was quoted as saying that the implementation of such a feature “It’s never going to happen”. When asked to confirm Edwards’ comments, Netflix stated:”We have been asked the same question for several years and have always given the exact same answer.”
Then in late 2015, the company’s Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt reaffirmed Netflix’s position on the matter. In fact, his confirmation came even after e-commerce giant Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) first announced that its Prime Instant Video would include an offline option.
Hunt also said that Netflix doesn’t offer the feature because it doesn’t represent a “very compelling proposition.” Additionally, he noted that NFLX users won’t be able to handle the complexity the added choice will bring.
Never Say Never
But despite being firm in its stance against offering the option of offline downloads through its mobile app and desktop platform, even when faced with competition from rivals like Amazon and even cable giants like Comcast, the fact is Netflix has for some time now entertained the idea of offline viewing. In fact, back in July there were reports suggesting that the Los Gatos California-based-company was testing such an option. These claims are being reiterated by Dan Taitz, COO of mobile video firm Penthera.com who told Light Reading that Netflix is currently working on the feature and preparing to launch it soon, calling it an “open secret in the video streaming community.”
The word is that the download-to-go as an option, which according to Taitz will cause a landscape shift when it rolls out, may launch before the end of the year.
Meanwhile other reports suggest that while there’s no firm launch attached just yet, they note that it’s a safe bet the feature “will be limited to the service’s original content, such as the various Marvel series, and recent hits like Stranger Things.”
Allowing offline playback would certainly be seen as a positive development for Netflix’s fan base. According to a relatively recent AllFlicks survey of more than 1,000 Netflix subscribers, 73% of subscribers would use the feature if given the opportunity to use it. Additionally, nearly 2/3 of respondents said that such an option, which is perhaps the most often requested feature of streaming content services, was either important or very important.
Basically users message couldn’t be much clearer to Netflix: offline playback must be in the cards.
It remains to be seem however, if more concrete and definitive steps about the feature will be taken by the $44 billion market cap company.