Netflix ‘looking at’ offline viewing, but not for developed markets

By Jim O'Neill on Nov 07 2016 at 6:00 AM
Netflix ‘looking at’ offline viewing, but not for developed markets

Bad news for commuters and road warriors hoping to catch up on The Crown or House of Cards: There’s no truth to the rumors – rampant over the past couple of weeks – that Netflix will be offering content for offline viewing in the near future (or, ever for that matter)… at least not in the United States and probably not in any market that has a highly developed WiFi and broadband infrastructure, like most of Western Europe.

Because WiFi and broadband are ubiquitous – and access is cheap – in those markets, Netflix sees little value in making content downloadable.

“We have talked a lot about this over the years and our belief is that broadband and Wi-Fi become more and more ubiquitous, available in more and more places that you are, more and more minutes of the day," Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said, during a CNBC interview. “We still think for the developed world our thesis has been true but I think as we get into more and more (of the) undeveloped world and developing countries that we want to find alternatives for people to use Netflix easily."
Instead, offline content likely will be offered in countries that have less-developed infrastructure or where data is expensive.

The company launched in 130 countries in January and has seen generally strong adoption in most countries. But the issue of available bandwidth is an issue.

“They all have different levels of broadband speeds and Wi-Fi access, so in those countries they have adapted their behaviors to be much more of a downloading culture,” said Sarandos. “So in those emerging territories it starts to become a little more interesting. We still think for the developed world our thesis has been true but I think as we get into more and more (of the) undeveloped world and developing countries that we want to find alternatives for people to use Netflix easily."

But, he added, no decisions have been made on when – or even if – downloads will be made anywhere, saying only that Netflix is "looking at it.”

Stay tuned.

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