Netflix’s ad-supported tier can block downloads of shows and movies for offline viewing

Netflix, Hulu Streaming Outpaces Broadcast, Cable Networks in July: Nielsen

Netflix doesn’t plan to allow users of its new ad-supported tier to download shows and movies for offline viewing on their devices, according to code found in the company’s iPhone app, eliminating a feature that customers enjoyed on its regular service.

The move suggests that Netflix is ​​doing what it can to differentiate the upcoming service from its current offerings. The streaming giant, which has avoided ads for years, plans to roll out an ad-supported tier early next year. But hints about the new service are already reflected in code hidden in its iPhone app.

According to in-app text discovered by developer Steve Moser and shared with Bloomberg News, “Downloads are available on all plans except Netflix with ads. The code also indicates that users won’t be able to skip ads — a common move in the streaming world — and that playback controls won’t be available during ad breaks.

Netflix declined to comment. Given that the launch of the service is still months away, the company’s plans are not yet final and its approach is still subject to change.

Still, early indications suggest that Netflix is ​​severely limiting the frills on the ad-based service. With its regular plans, users can download content to watch in places without reliable internet access, such as airplanes. The lack of that option could help Netflix users upsell to its higher-end tier after switching to the ad-supported version. The Los Gatos, California-based company has already said it won’t offer all of its content on the ad tier.

Netflix is ​​losing customers and facing competition from Walt Disney, Amazon and Warner Bros. Discovery’s HBO Max. Last quarter, it shed 1.3 million customers in the US and Canada, its largest region.

Disney’s Hulu, Warner Bros.’ Rival services such as HBO Max, and Comcast’s Peacock already rely on ad-supported tiers to fuel growth. Budget versions of services like HBO Max also turn off the downloading option.

Netflix’s app contains additional hidden references to its ad extensions, including text about helping specific users create Netflix ads. “Now, let’s set up your ad experience. We just need a few details to make sure you get the most relevant ads on Netflix. It’ll be real quick, we promise!” A message reads.

The ad-supported category will provide a cheaper option for consumers who are scared by the rising costs of the service. The premium level of the service, which offers 4K resolution and four simultaneous streams, costs $20 (roughly Rs. 1,600) in the US.

Netflix has previously said that the ad-based service will be available in multiple territories, and that Microsoft will serve as its sales and technology partner for the ad system.

© 2022 Bloomberg LP


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