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Offline viewing? You can't handle offline viewing, says Netflix

Barry Collins
8 Sep 2015
Netflix
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Netflix once again rules out a downloads option, despite Amazon's decision to offer the feature

Netflix has reaffirmed its opposition to customers watching content offline, despite chief rival Amazon Prime introducing downloads for mobile devices last week. Netflix claims customers simply couldn't handle the choice.

In an interview with Gizmodo, Netflix's chief product officer admits offline viewing is a much requested feature from the company's customers, but he remains adamant that Netflix will remain streaming-only. "I still don't think it's a very compelling proposition,” said Neil Hunt.

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“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 goes as far to suggest that customers couldn't cope with the option to download films or TV shows to their own device. "One of the things I've learned is that every time you offer a choice, you paralyse some people who can't decide if that's what they want to do or not," he said. "Now, that sounds really stupid and self-serving, but it is in fact true. It's the 'Paradox of Choice'."

Amazon is offering downloads of selected content on smartphones and tablets. Rights issues prevent the company from offering its entire catalogue for offline viewing, and the option to download content is only available to the primary Amazon Prime account holder and not other members of the household who share the same Prime account. 

Netlfix and Amazon are locked in a battle to create exclusive programming to attract subscribers. Netflix has won critical acclaim for several of its exclusive series, including Orange Is The New BlackHouse of Cards and the latest addition to the service, Narcos. 

Amazon has also enjoyed success with Transparent, and this month announced it had signed former Top Gear stars Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond to produce a new show for Prime. Netflix subsequently claimed it turned down the trio because, after examining the streaming viewing figures for old episodes of Top Gear, "it wasn't worth the money".  

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