Netflix Hints That Offline Downloads May Not be Far Off

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

Netflix may be set to relax its stance on downloads, with CEO Reed Hastings this week declaring that the company’s keeping an “open mind” on the matter. Underground commuters and frequent fliers, try not to wet yourselves.

Asked at its Q1 earnings call about its frustrating commitment to the streaming-only model, Hastings replied, “We should keep an open mind on this. We've been so focused on 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."

The company’s always been adamant that it would not be following Amazon Prime Video by offering offline downloads, and we’d be mighty happy if that changed. Last year, Netflix's Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt tried to justify the policy by arguing that users wouldn’t be able to handle the complexity that offline downloads would bring.

“I still don't think it's a very compelling proposition,” he said at the time. “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.”

Read More: How a Netflix Offline Mode Would Work

Yeah, sounded like a pretty weak argument at the time too. As well as Netflix's expansion into territories where network infrastructure might not be up to scratch, Hastings’ admission also hints at an increasing amount of 4K content. Offline downloads would certainly ease the burden on ISPs as the super-sharp service picks up more and more users, and we're all about making the world a friendlier place for ISPs.