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Netflix Finally Gets Download Option (netflix.com) 105

For years, people asked Netflix to give them the ability to download movies and TV episodes. Though this might not seem like that big of a deal in many regions where internet connectivity is cheap and omnipresent, same is not the case everywhere, especially in developing regions. Netflix is finally addressing this need: the on-demand media streaming service said Wednesday that people can now download shows on their Android and iOS devices . From the company's blog post: Just click the download button on the details page for a film or TV series and you can watch it later without an internet connection. Many of your favorite streaming series and movies are already available for download, with more on the way, so there is plenty of content available for those times when you are offline.It's worth pointing out that the offline playback -- or the ability to download videos isn't available on desktop platforms. Also, it appears that a heck lot of shows currently don't have this feature -- as of today.
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Netflix Finally Gets Download Option

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  • Air travel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daten ( 575013 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @10:48AM (#53392521) Homepage
    This is a game changer for air travel, I've had to depend on rentals from Google or Amazon, now I can cache Netflix? Nice.
    • NYC trains too. why pay more money to AT&T or Verizon when you can just buy more storage and play from your device with no issues

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        why pay more money to AT&T or Verizon when you can just buy more storage and play from your device with no issues

        Because they own the platform you're working on. I'm guessing this change might piss them off, and ATT/Verizon might start wanting to rent you your phone again and bill you a monthly amount based on how much used storage space we have on our cell phones.

    • by XXongo ( 3986865 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @11:01AM (#53392595) Homepage

      Good. They finally figured out that not everybody has good internet connection, and even people that do have good connection don't have it everywhere-- sometimes they're travelling some place with poor connectivity.

      I tried Netflix once: it was so annoying to wait when the video freezes at random intervals for 40 seconds as the loading wheel spins that I never looked at it again. Maybe I might give it a try--

      --oh, wait, you can only download on mobile devices?!? Shit, what's the point?

      • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @11:12AM (#53392695)

        It isn't about not having internet connection but expensive internet connection. Cell Data is still wicked expensive, and access to free or cheap Wi-Fi is easy to find, but isn't always available.

        The point on a mobile device is rather easy to see.
        If you are at home you will have a network connection. While if you are traveling you may not have one. And if it on a PC it is way to easy to pirate the movie. If there is wide pirating of netflix movies then studios will drop netflix like a brick and they will not have any good content.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It's already easy to pirate Netflix, they have programs to collect the mini individual video files they stream and stitch them together.

        • The point on a mobile device is pretty dubious, actually. Who in the world would like to watch a move on the tiny little screen? I know that people these days think that's the way to watch, but really: it isn't.

          I always bring my laptop on travel, so I'd watch movies on that, if they were available. But often the wifi you get at a hotel is pretty ratty.

          • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

            The point on a mobile device is pretty dubious, actually. Who in the world would like to watch a move on the tiny little screen?

            When it's hanging off the seat in front of you, the average cellphone or tablet screen is big enough. Pop it into an Airhook [theairhook.com] and it'll just about be at eyeball height. I caught up on a couple of shows that way flying home this past weekend.

          • by EvilSS ( 557649 )

            The point on a mobile device is pretty dubious, actually. Who in the world would like to watch a move on the tiny little screen? I know that people these days think that's the way to watch, but really: it isn't.

            I always bring my laptop on travel, so I'd watch movies on that, if they were available. But often the wifi you get at a hotel is pretty ratty.

            People under 30. It's they way they want to watch stuff. I don't get it myself but I'm not going to tell someone they are watching TV wrong.

            Also, what crappy hotels do you stay at that don't have TV in the rooms? Every hotel I've been in for the past few years has had a TV with HDMI in. I just either hook up my laptop or if it's a long trip I'll bring a Shield TV or Roku stick (both can navigate hotel WiFi logins). Laptop screens are too damn small.

            • Also, what crappy hotels do you stay at that don't have TV in the rooms? Every hotel I've been in for the past few years has had a TV with HDMI in.

              I welcome the day when they stop putting TVs in hotel rooms. I can make use of the desk space, but not when there's a telly on it.

            • by b0bby ( 201198 )

              Every hotel I've been in for the past few years has had a TV with HDMI in.

              The ones where I've tried it had the HDMI blocked - you couldn't switch to it in the menu.

          • The point on a mobile device is pretty dubious, actually. Who in the world would like to watch a move on the tiny little screen?

            I prefer watching on my cell 6 inch 2 pound cell phone much more than lagging a laptop around. New generation of kids / 20 year olds don't even bother with computers or laptops for the most part - they have replaced those with phones and tablets.

            But for you, I do get that it would not be beneficial.

            • by Calydor ( 739835 )

              I prefer sitting in a sofa or comfortable chair when watching a movie, at which point holding up a phone in front of my face gets much heavier than putting a laptop on a table in front of me.

              But hey, if you watch movies while just standing around be my guest.

          • Take an HDMI cable for your phone and use the hotel TV. That would be my use case. Laptop support would be nice, but I wouldn't want to use that screen either.

          • have you RTFA? Ops, it's /. ...
          • Who in the world would like to watch a move [sic] on the tiny little screen?

            I'd be more likely to watch TV that way, since I already do it.. watch TV while walking on the treadmill every day. Vegging and watch TV (stuff I have downloaded and am watching via the VLC iOS app) is the only thing that gets me in the habit of doing it every day.

        • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

          If you are at home you will have a network connection.

          Not if your Internet connection drops, in which case caching as much of the episode or movie as possible may prevent disruption.

          And not if your connection is too slow to adequately stream high def content, in which case pre-downloading the next episode or even a selection of titles could make it a better value than DVD.

        • by antdude ( 79039 )

          Mobile devices are like PCs too. Not everyone has fast and unlimited fixed Internet. :P

        • And if it on a PC it is way to easy to pirate the movie.

          On the bright side for content consumers, it does not matter if it is easy or hard to pirate the movie since someone WILL pirate it regardless of difficulty and then share the results with everyone who is not so technically savvy.

          Definitely a solid use DRM there. ;)

      • --oh, wait, you can only download on mobile devices?!? Shit, what's the point?

        on use case: using the time going to work or coming back to home to watch shows/movies (with headphones, obviously: sound on buses/trains bothers me so much!)

        • on use case: using the time going to work or coming back to home to watch shows/movies (with headphones, obviously:

          Sounds like a plan. But all those puclic-service ads tell me not to use my smartphone while driving.

      • --oh, wait, you can only download on mobile devices?!? Shit, what's the point?

        I assume you could use this with an Android TV stick (or use a phone with HDMI out).

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      This is a game changer for air travel, I've had to depend on rentals from Google or Amazon, now I can cache Netflix? Nice.

      Amazon Prime allows you to download prime movies/tv shows on Amazon video for free. Was great the last time me and my wife went to visit her sister's family out of state. I could watch movies on the drive.

    • by gatkinso ( 15975 )

      Soon airlines will charge you to turn on your tablet.

  • by anthony_greer ( 2623521 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @10:53AM (#53392549)

    Let the streamers stream and cache ahead in bursts! I would love to see some QoS on the ISP level to bump down Netflix caching downloads so that my cable internet doesnt degrade to useless crap durring the hours of 5 to 10 PM. If you are going to binge watch $Show, start it downloading, then go make your popcorn and come back and start EP1, then the rest of the neighborhood doesn't get its bandwidth nuked by high priority streaming traffic.

    • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @11:05AM (#53392623) Homepage

      Yes, THIS.

      It's a shame because most streaming devices like the Apple TV and Roku and such have several gigabytes of local flash memory they could use for caching, but apps like Netflix and HBO Now don't make much use of it.

      When you hit "play" it should start downloading video as fast as your connection can carry, and cache as much of it as there is available free space. If properly implemented, with a fast connection you should be able to unplug the network 15 minutes into your show and be able to watch the rest of the episode without issue.

      Not only will performance improve, but keeping the episode cached will greatly improve the performance of seeking around in the video, and avoid redownloading video if you want to go back and watch a scene again because you missed what was said.

      • You just invented TiVO for Netflix
        • Bwahahhaa, great analogy.

          On a side note, my mother bought a TiVo recently to watch broadcast TV. She thinks it's the most amazing thing ever. I helped her set it up and it's funny how little TiVo has changed in over a decade.

          And she watches Netflix and HBO Now too, so it's not like she doesn't do things the modern way as well. There's just too much stuff on broadcast TV she still watches and the TiVo is like God Mode for that.

          • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

            They have those?
            Can they be gotten without a monthly sub?

            IIRC tivo used to require a guide subscribtion to function but the channel guide is broadcast OTA now for free so what would I need that for.

            • Yep, the Tivo Roamio OTA units. They're no longer being manufactured, so you can get good deals on them and they have lifetime service included.

      • by EvilSS ( 557649 )
        I don't know about 15, but I've gotten over 2 minutes from netflix after a network outage before. They do buffer quite a bit if the device allows for it. On slower internet they also throttle the bitrate at the beginning of the show to allow for buffering, then you will see the resolution climb to it's max after the buffer is established.
      • by PRMan ( 959735 )
        Many Rokus only have 0.5 GB RAM. The newest ones have 1.5 GB to 2 GB RAM.
      • Just tested it out on my iPhone with an episode of Black Mirror. I clicked the download symbol and it took about a minute to download over a 100 Meg cable network. Watching it now, resolution is good. This will be great for those long commutes to the office!

    • Let the streamers stream and cache ahead in bursts! I would love to see some QoS on the ISP level to bump down Netflix caching downloads so that my cable internet doesnt degrade to useless crap durring the hours of 5 to 10 PM. If you are going to binge watch $Show, start it downloading, then go make your popcorn and come back and start EP1, then the rest of the neighborhood doesn't get its bandwidth nuked by high priority streaming traffic.

      Or maybe your ISP could upgrade the lines to handle the bandwidth. No problems in my area, I've never seen less than half the advertised bandwidth during any time of the day.

      • by Builder ( 103701 )

        Ok, cool - you got any names for decent fibre suppliers in Togo ?

      • Or maybe your ISP could upgrade the lines to handle the bandwidth.

        It's kind of expensive for a satellite ISP to launch another satellite. A scheduled prefetch option would at least allow subscribers to make the most of the unmetered early mornings that satellite ISPs offer.

      • Or maybe your ISP could upgrade the lines to handle the bandwidth. No problems in my area,

        there are regions here, in Brazil, where it's not even possible/thinkable...

        * the world != EUA

      • Or maybe your ISP could upgrade the lines to handle the bandwidth. No problems in my area, I've never seen less than half the advertised bandwidth during any time of the day.

        Wow, it's a pretty sad state of society when people brag that the bandwidth they are getting is "only" half of what it had been advertised as.

        • I've never needed even half of my bandwidth to be honest but that response is rather interesting.

    • high priority streaming traffic

      this is why I've avoided Netflix almost entirely: an 720p movie download hardly takes 1GB, while a "Netflix 720p movie" takes several GBs of my (payed) "bandwidth" ("data cap", really - here in Brazil it's a question being very debated these days: data caps on home internet)...

    • it already does that. netflix doesn't use a steady connection. it bursts a few minutes of data at a time to a local cache. problem is that unlike regular TV everyone is watching different parts of the show at different times so it's always bursting different data to everyone

  • by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @10:55AM (#53392563)

    Increase the streaming catalog to include everything they have in their mailing only DVD catalog.

    Without a decent catalog of something to watch, offering folks the ability to watch it offline is rather pointless I think.

    • Re:Better Idea (Score:4, Informative)

      by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @11:03AM (#53392603) Homepage

      Honestly, this isn't a Netflix problem. If they could, I'm sure they'd just rip their DVD catalog and put it online. However, this would be massive copyright infringement and the entertainment industry would launch lawsuits immediately on a scale that would likely shut Netflix down. Instead, they need to go about this the hard way of making deals with the copyright owners and paying them for each show that they put on streaming. It's a slow process made harder by many in the entertainment industry acting as though Netflix is the enemy and streaming leads to piracy. (In reality, putting a show on Netflix makes it less likely that the title will be pirated.) Netflix only has so much money to spend on content so they need to pick and choose among what's available to them.

      In short, if your favorite show/movie isn't on Netflix, the copyright owner is likely more to blame than Netflix.

      • It goes even deeper than that.

        Many of the creators of popular shows sign exclusive multi-year contracts to specific networks in specific geographical regions, thus shutting Netflix out from even trying in many regions.

        It's the major cable network owners that see Netflix as the enemy, and have even deeper pockets to keep content away from Netflix by buying up the rights of popular shows in the regions they operate.

        Netflix Original content is purchased from the creators in a similar manner. They sign exclusiv

    • Re:Better Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EvilSS ( 557649 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @11:09AM (#53392663)

      Increase the streaming catalog to include everything they have in their mailing only DVD catalog.

      And you will be OK with paying $100 per month for the subscription then, right? It's not like that content is free. They can't just rip the DVDs they have and put it online for you to watch.

      • and why would it cost me $100 / month if Netflix offers unlimited DVD plans for $7.99 / month ?
        What exactly is the $92 / month difference if I pop a rental disc into a player vs watching a streaming version of it ?

        Netflix still has to get permissions to distribute those discs. Doing so via a streaming solution cuts down on their media and shipping costs.

        • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

          You assume that the cost of streaming licenses are equal to the cost of their DVD rental licenses, which are probably very different.

          • True.

            Though you would think the folks negotiating said licenses would realize that a streaming solution would reach a larger audience and would be pushing for streaming vs hardcopy delivery methods.

          • by n7ytd ( 230708 )

            Do they pay for rental licenses? I've always assumed that once they bought the physical disk, it was theirs to give away, rent, or destroy as they saw fit.

        • Because of the First Sale Doctrine https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]
        • by EvilSS ( 557649 )

          Netflix still has to get permissions to distribute those discs.

          No, actually they do not. Not in the US at least. Discs being physical items they can rent them as they see fit, as long as they are original media. Streaming, on the other hand, does require it. I mean, do you honestly think they have a bunch of DVDs setting around they also have the rights to stream without paying more and they just went "Nope!".

        • Actually, Netflix doesn't have to get permissions to distribute those discs. Doctrine of First Sale says that as soon as Netflix bought them, they could start renting them out. Netflix has made deals with studios for those DVDs, most of the time, because they could then get those DVDs for less than they would at, say, Best Buy, but that's because the studios know they can't actually stop this, so the terms were vastly better than in the streaming world.
        • Actually, they do not have to get permission to distribute those discs. Once they buy a legitimate copy of it they can do whatever the heck they want with that physical disc short of actually copying it themselves. Redbox went through this a few years ago. Companies weren't happy with their business model and so stopped selling them the discs in bulk. Solution? They sent agents into stores in the area and bought the DVDs at retail, loaded them in the box and rented them anyway. When the MPAA tried to
      • by CODiNE ( 27417 )

        Why not? Look how well Google Books worked out.

        • by EvilSS ( 557649 )

          Why not? Look how well Google Books worked out.

          Because those are totally the same. Want something more relevant, look what happened to Aereo.

      • It's not even an issue of cost. A lot of content owners don't want Netflix to have a complete catalog. NBC/Universal/Comcast, for example, controls a lot of content and *also* services for distributing content. If you can get all of the Comcast content without paying for Comcast services, then Comcast loses a bunch of money. Comcast will, therefore, go out of its way to hobble Netflix and prevent it from having access to all of it's content.

        • by EvilSS ( 557649 )

          It's not even an issue of cost. A lot of content owners don't want Netflix to have a complete catalog. NBC/Universal/Comcast, for example, controls a lot of content and *also* services for distributing content. If you can get all of the Comcast content without paying for Comcast services, then Comcast loses a bunch of money. Comcast will, therefore, go out of its way to hobble Netflix and prevent it from having access to all of it's content.

          This is true too. Just look at DirecTV Now that launched today. Has some locals (owned and operated only) but NBC, where available, is only available to stream live on mobile devices, not on TVs. Ridiculous restriction, and probably only exists because they are now owned by Comcast. Hell it's insane that DirecTV, which already has contracts with all these different content providers, has to renegotiate for rights to send the same content over the internet instead of satellite.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      That's the fault of the studios, not Netflix. To force a studio into something, Netflix would have to acquire the studio. Disney's market cap alone is thrice that of Netflix.

  • by phrackthat ( 2602661 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @01:06PM (#53393731)
    I'm not certain, but couldn't one download to desktop using an Android emulator on the desktop? I mean what's the point? If don't want people being able to download the content and put it on a bigger screen, are they also going to block screen casting?
  • by Nukenbar ( 215420 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @01:13PM (#53393819)

    As of now, this only works for shows that Netflix themselves have produced.

    • Well there are a bunch kids shows they produced that my kids like so maybe next summer when driving across South Dakota I can just load up a season or two of dino trucks, or Inspector Gadget on the tablet and let the kids watch that in the back seat as we drive past 300 miles of corn.
      • Careful, you are implying that you don't want to constantly be interacting with your kids and are relying on technology to babysit your children in place of parent child interaction. Slashdot does not look kindly on such suggestions...as you can see if you ever look back at AskSlashdot about anything related to children. I hope for your sake this comment was deep enough in this story to avoid the righteous retribution of the La Leche league or whoever the heck it is that drives such a strange, punitive b
    • No, for example the Netflix original Marvel shows are not available for download while the DC shows they license from the CW are.

    • As of now, this only works for shows that Netflix themselves have produced.

      Interesting, I never realised Netflix was around in 1957 to produce The Bridge on the River Kwai.

  • There's nothing left to watch. Netflix sucks ass.

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