Following in the footsteps of Amazon Prime Video, Netflix now allows users to download movies and shows to watch with no internet access. As of November 30th, subscribers can now ‘binge-watch’ shows like Breaking Bad and Narcos offline.
Many users wonder why downloadable content via Netflix didn’t emerge earlier, since the concept seems simple and practical. The reason is that rights needed for downloading TV shows and movies are different than those needed for streaming. Netflix thus had to acquire a new set of rights before it could unleash this feature. The complex laws surrounding intellectual property and internet downloads are part of the reason why Netflix has invested so heavily in its original content.; however, even some of Netflix’s content won’t be available for offline viewing due to licensing restrictions.
According to Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, the new downloading feature is paramount to Netflix’s success regarding its expansion into demographics for which high speed internet access is limited or non-existent. In Netflix’s largest markets, Wi-Fi is becoming ever more ubiquitous, making the download feature somewhat superfluous. However, as subscriber growth has leveled off in developed markets, the company is now looking into emerging markets to expand its user base, such as Asia and Africa.
Earlier this year, Netflix expanded into 130 new countries, bringing its total reach to a whopping 190 territories. In the last quarter, Netflix added 3.2 million new international subscribers. Netflix will continue to look to international markets for future growth as domestic markets saturate.
Although other streaming services have provided similar downloading features, such as Amazon Prime Video and Vudu, these services are not primarily subscriber-based like Netflix. Netflix’s closest competitor, Hulu, does not yet offer downloading, but the Chief of User Experience at Hulu stated that they are “working on it.” However, pioneering downloadable subscription content could prove sufficient to catapult Netflix to unprecedented levels of growth and global exposure.
While some are concerned that Netflix’s goal is to export American content around the world, Sarandos argues that “our goal is to export great storytelling from everywhere in the world, to everywhere else in the world.” Soon, everyone will have access to Netflix’s massive breadth of content.