Netflix with ads may not come with offline viewing

Upcoming Netflix ad-supported level may not be the best streaming option for commuters and other viewers who frequently watch on the go. Developer Steve Moser discovered text in the service’s iPhone app code that says “Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads.” If viewers can’t download content to their devices on the level, that means they won’t be able to watch their shows or movies offline. Netflix has neither confirmed nor denied there will be no offline viewing with the offering, but said Tech Crunch:

“We’re still in the early days of deciding to launch a cheaper, ad-supported option and no decision has been made, so it’s just speculation at this stage.”

In July, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos admitted in an earnings call that the upcoming subscription option will not include all of the service’s licensed content at launch. The company still needs to renegotiate deals with studios to be able to offer their shows and movies alongside commercials. Similarly, the lack of offline viewing may also have a legitimate reason other than Netflix wanting to force tier subscribers to pay more for a premium subscription.

As Tech Crunch notes, it can be technically difficult to serve ads with offline content. In fact, Netflix won’t be the only streaming platform with an ad-supported option that doesn’t come with offline viewing. HBO Max and Hulu, for example, don’t have a download feature either. Based on Netflix’s statement, however, things could still change when the level launches early next year.

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