Offline playback is coming to Netflix. Just not in the U.S.
Earlier this year, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that he was "open-minded" about bringing offline playback to the service. In an interview with CNBC, Netflix COO Ted Sarandos said that the company is "looking at" enabling the feature, with initial rollout expected in countries with limited internet availability:
We have talked a lot about this over the years and our belief is that broadband and Wi-Fi become more and more ubiquitous, available in more and more places that you are, more and more minutes of the day.
Now as we've launched in more territories … They all have different levels of broadband speeds and Wi-Fi access. So in those countries they have adapted their behaviors to be much more of a downloading culture. So in those emerging territories it starts to become a little more interesting.
We still think for the developed world our thesis has been true but I think as we get into more and more (of the) undeveloped world and developing countries that we want to find alternatives for people to use Netflix easily.
Netflix could emulate what Google has done with YouTube, with the service allowing customers in emerging markets to take videos offline. The feature is available for YouTube Red subscribers in Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United States, but anyone using the standard YouTube app in India can save videos locally for later viewing.
The move is designed to make it easier for customers to consume content even in areas with spotty connectivity, and with Netflix actively targeting emerging markets, we could see a similar option being rolled out by the service. No word on a timeframe yet, but earlier rumors suggested the feature would be available before the end of the year.