The topic of offline viewing has been a complex one for Netflix. For several years, it has been a feature that users have been asking for. Music streaming services, such as Groove Music, have offered the ability to download music to your device to listen offline. This allows you to listen on an airplane or other places where reception is questionable. Users have questioned why they cannot do the same for their favorite movies and television shows.
In 2015, Amazon Instant Video implemented the ability to download video for offline viewing. This brought the topic back into the foreground, as Netflix has always had a larger catalog, and is where users want to be. The company continued to insist that it was not a feature that enough of their users wanted, and was more complicated to bring to reality than was worth the expense.
In June of this year, a report suggested that Netflix was finally giving in and bringing offline to the platform. It was suggested that the feature would be released before the end of 2016 - and then there was nothing. No real word from Netflix, no follow-up from the sources, just silence. That is until this week.
It is official - Netflix has brought offline viewing to their platform - kind of. The feature is only available on some of their mobile apps - namely iOS and Android. If you have a Windows Phone or tablet, you are out of luck, despite the fact that Windows devices usually get preferential treatment from Netflix. You also won't be able to use the feature on any laptop or desktop platform, including Windows, macOS and Linux, though we have not tested whether the Android app allows for it on Chrome OS.
In addition, not everything is available to download. Some of the most popular Netflix Originals, like Stranger Things and House of Cards are eligible for offline viewing, while others, like Daredevil are not. Netflix licensed content is also spotty, though the company promises that more content will be coming in the future. Just like with Hulu's ad-free option, contracts have to be signed to allow for the feature.
To take advantage of the new feature, make sure you have the most recent version of the Netflix app on a compatible device and look for the download arrow next to content.