Gizmodo: ‘The Real Reason Netflix Won’t Offer Offline Downloads’

Gerald Lynch, writing for Gizmodo:

Netflix however remains firm in its stance that it’s not going to offer offline downloads through its mobile applications, even in the face of competition from its rival. But why?

According to Neil Hunt, Netflix’s Chief Product Officer, Netflix users won’t be able to handle the complexity the added choice will bring.

“I still don’t think it’s a very compelling proposition,” said Hunt, speaking to Gizmodo UK at the IFA tradeshow in Berlin.

“I think it’s something that lots of people ask for. We’ll see if it’s something lots of people will use. Undoubtedly it adds considerable complexity to your life with Amazon Prime — you have to remember that you want to download this thing. It’s not going to be instant, you have to have the right storage on your device, you have to manage it, and I’m just not sure people are actually that compelled to do that, and that it’s worth providing that level of complexity.”

This amused me greatly, as I read it while flying across the continent. Without even standing up, I see at least four passengers watching movies they’d downloaded to their iPads and MacBooks. Air travel alone is a compelling use case for offline video, but I think cellular data caps are an important factor too.

Complexity isn’t the reason why Netflix doesn’t allow offline viewing. It’s just their excuse for not having it yet. It’s right out of the Steve Jobs handbook: something you don’t offer is a terrible idea, until you offer it yourself, at which point you explain why your solution is the first to get it right.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015