What you need to know
- Netflix could remove the ability to download movies and shows in its ad-supported tier.
- The restriction was found in code within its mobile app.
- Netflix is expected to launch the ad-supported plan in early 2023.
Netflix's upcoming ad-supported plan may lack a key feature available in its regular tier, making it a less appealing option for subscribers who constantly travel.
According to code found within its iOS app by developer Steve Moser, the cheaper Netflix tier will block attempts from subscribers to download movies and shows for offline viewing (via Bloomberg). Like other streaming apps with ad-supported tiers, the app will presumably remove the ability to skip ads and control playback during commercial breaks.
While Netflix confirmed in April that it intended to launch a cheaper, ad-supported tier in the future, details on the plan have been limited. The new piece of evidence appears plausible, seeing as other streaming platforms like Peacock and HBO Max offer ad-supported tiers sans the option to download videos.
This strategy is seen as a way to lure subscribers into upgrading to a premium, higher-priced tier. Likewise, existing Netflix subscribers are expected to give the upcoming tier a hard pass due to its lack of download option, which isn't ideal for users who frequently watch movies on the fly.
Assuming the latest rumor is true, it will add to the drawbacks of the less expensive plan. Last month, Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos said that not all content would be available on the ad-supported tier. This could include some of the best Netflix shows.
That said, since Netflix is still polishing the planned offering, it is likely that plans will change before the service is rolled out. It's possible that the tier's features will vary by market. A case in point is HBO Go, which remains available in some parts of Asia following its shutdown in 2020. While HBO Max does not offer a download option, its semi-inactive predecessor still does.
Netflix plans to launch the ad-supported tier in early 2023, so there is still time for the company to make a decision. The subscription price remains unknown for the time being. Netflix is working with Microsoft as its ad technology and sales partner, so an offline viewing option might not be entirely up to the streaming service alone.
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Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.