Popular streaming service Netflix may soon allow its users to view content offline by giving them the option to download it. Amazon Prime, which allows its users to download content, is providing stiff competition to the streaming giant, which leads the market.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, when asked about the possibility of such a feature being introduced in the future, said, "We should keep an open mind on this. We have been focusing on the click and watch, and the beauty and simplicity of streaming. But as we expand around the world where we see an uneven set of networks, it's something we should keep an open mind about."
Although that is not a confirmation as such, it is contrary to the company's earlier stand of not allowing offline content under any circumstance. One reason for this change of heart could be the much publicised entry of Amazon Prime into streaming services with this feature for its users.
Internet connections lag every now and then and with Netflix requiring pretty good speeds, users could find it difficult to stream content especially when on the move in remote areas or when in an air plane.However, the ability to download specific episodes or movies can allow consumers to watch this content even without an internet connection. This could also encourage a lot of torrent lovers to subscribe to this kind of video service, which would give them better quality and original reels and that too officially.
But this does not mean you can start watching House Of Cards or Narcos offline just yet. Netflix explained earlier that while there was no technical reason to not have this feature, contractual obligation and licensing deals with the likes of HBO restrict it from allowing viewers to download the content.
If HBO gave away its offline rights to Netflix, not many would tune into the television broadcasts of the shows, which make millions for the entity. Similarly, many movie production houses may not be comfortable doing that. Having said that, there may be some others willing to offer such a deal and Netflix could always choose to offer selective content.
The latest indication from the Netflix CEO regarding offline viewing could also have a lot to do with costs attached to the monthly subscriptions, which will soon be raised to $9.99 (£7.49 for the UK) for its popular Standard plan. Amazon, on the other hand, currently costs $8.99 a month, a dollar cheaper than Netflix. Although old time Netflix users may get some discount, it will not help the company's case as its mission of expansion can only come about with more users.
Moreover, the Amazon Prime Video is also cheaper if you are willing to pay upfront and surrender the option of cancelling anytime. Amazon will also continue to bundle its streaming service with its wider Prime membership, which is best known for free, two-day shipping. This will end up costing $99 for a year, which roughly translates to $8.25 monthly, again way cheaper than Netflix.
Who is the content king?
Netflix could try to push its case saying it has the cream of content like Orange Is The New Black, House Of Cards, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Making A Murderer and Beasts Of No Nation. However, Amazon may catch up soon with the showcasing of Transparent that has been an awards circuit favourite and Mozart In The Jungle, which was the surprise winner of this year's Golden Globe for best musical or comedy TV series.
In addition, Amazon has struck some popular series deals like Downton Abbey, Veep, Girls and more. Unlike Netflix, which is shelling out cash to develop its own content in many ventures, Amazon plans to outsource most of the content by nabbing exclusive deals for high-profile content made by other studios and programmers.
Clearly, there is no match to what Netflix has to offer in terms of content as of now, but things could change. If Amazon bagged some sweet deals, it would not be far behind Netflix, which would then need the offline content more than ever.