Netflix says its users don’t really want to watch shows offline

After Amazon introduces the feature, Netflix executive says introducing the option to download shows for later would confuse consumers

Amazon’s video streaming service, Prime Instant Video, made a big move recently when it announced that it would let users download shows to watch offline.

While part of the point of streaming video is that you can choose what to watch instantly, rather than having to “prepare” by downloading a show, there are clearly situations when one might want to download, most obviously when travelling.

So when Prime Instant Video announced that offline viewing would become an option, many thought that Netflix following in its footsteps may only be a matter of time.

However, Netflix is not likely to introduce the option in the near future, according to its chief product officer Neil Hunt.

“I still don’t think it’s a very compelling proposition,” Hunt told Gizmodo.

“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.”

Hunt said that when Netflix had introduced another option that users had asked for – the ability to add half stars to its ratings system – the number of user-generated ratings had fallen significantly.

Netflix has previously said that offline viewing is “never going to happen”, despite services such as the BBC’s iPlayer allowing users to download shows. Instead, the company is relying on Wi-Fi coverage to continue to improve so that people are practically never caught offline.

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