Netflix finally lets you download shows and movies for offline viewing


TS Evangelist

A long requested feature has finally come to Netflix. Today the company announced that it’s launching offline playback for “many of your favorite streaming series and movies.” For now that includes original series like Narcos and Stranger Things, but also plenty of third-party content as well. A bunch of shows including Parks and Recreation, The Office and 30 Rock and many others are available. It’ll vary region-to-region but there’s enough to get you started and comes just in time for holiday travelers.

The offline viewing feature is available in the latest version of Netflix on Android or iOS pushed out today. A download button will appear next to the play button for shows that allow it or you can head to the navigation menu in the top left corner, then choose "Available for Download" to see everything that’s available in one place. You can also select between a “standard” or “higher” quality download option, depending on whether you want to prioritize video quality or device storage space.

Netflix had been notably against video downloading and just two years ago company executives were saying it was “never going to happen,” arguing it adds considerable complexity to the product.

Given rival platforms like Amazon and YouTube Red now offer offline viewing, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings went on record earlier this year saying they’re keeping “an open mind” about the feature, as a way to make Netflix more appealing in developing markets where mobile broadband is expensive or limited.

The company ultimately decided it’s a worthwhile addition and it’s not limiting it to specific markets. Just like with their originals, the new offline viewing feature is available for everyone at the same time.

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Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
Curious as to how they implement copy protection - assuming they do - and how quickly it will be cracked... I know their streaming service was cracked pretty quickly, so the #1 reason not to allow offline viewing disappeared.


This should be available for every streaming service. Good on you Netflix. Now if you could just redesign your God Forsaken queing system it would be much appreciated.
Anyone tried this, yet? How much space does an episode take up, more or less? SD or HD?
Seems to vary a bit. To test it out, I downloaded 4 episodes of Arrow (it didn't prompt me for SD vs. HD, so they may not be availabe in an HD format). The smallest (S4E02) takes up 151.2 MB, the largest (S3E23) takes up 198.8 MB. Based on those figures, it looks like you can expect it to take ~200-250MB per hour of programming for SD.
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?? Why do you need a queuing system in Netflix? How many hours of video are you watching back to back that you need a queue!!?
Seems a bit off-topic, but I'll bite.

First off, there's not actual "queue" per se. The only time Netflix starts playing another show automatically is if you're watching an episode of a TV series, & it gives you a 15-20 second lead time before it automatically starts the next episode. However, this doesn't happen with movies...& so far, I've only seen it happen with our Roku Stick. The Netflix app on our Wii doesn't do that, & even the Netflix app on our Roku 2 doesn't work that way either; for both of those devices, if you want to binge watch episode after episode of a show, you have to manually select it. And again, Netflix only does this with TV shows; after you watch a movie, you have to manually select another movie. Personally, I find it both mirrors the functionality that Hulu (the free version) had, while also improving on it: Hulu would do the same thing, but once you got to the last available episode for a show, it would try to start some completely unrelated show (just because I loved Castle, for example, doesn't mean that I was interested in Leverage or Grey's Anatomy).

Second, the "My List" isn't a "queue" in the traditional sense, like with the Netflix DVD subscription. Just because you have Cabin in the Woods as item #1 in your "My List", doesn't mean you have to watch it before moving on to Love Actually, Iron Man 2, or new episodes of Heartland. You can skip around & watch stuff from anywhere in your list, or even watch something that you haven't added to your list. I have items in my list that have been there for a couple of years now; I've even had items disappear from my list when Netflix had to remove them from the rotation, only for them to come back when they joined the rotation again.

Finally, the amount you watch can all depend. Sometimes, you just want to watch a couple of episodes or a movie at night to relax after a long day at work. And sometimes, you're just super tired on the weekend, or the weather is really bad & you don't feel like doing anything, so you binge-watch half a season of a show. It's nice to be able to look through their catalog, but it's a big catalog. Being able to add shows & movies to a list so that you can watch them later makes it much, much easier to find something to watch...and even if you have to scroll through 300+ items to do so, it's still easier than scrolling through 1000s of items.
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Anyone tried this, yet? How much space does an episode take up, more or less? SD or HD?
Just as a follow-up, Tom's Hardware has more info,33116.html

Apparently, it's in the menu settings to select SD or HD, & shows the difference in storage space.

To be honest, if you're watching it on a phone, I think HD is going to be wasted because you won't be able to see the difference. Maybe if you have it saved to a tablet, it would be worth the extra space.
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