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Netflix with ads may abandon offline streaming

Netflix’s new ad-supported data plan may not be the best streaming option for travelers and other viewers who often watch on the go. Developer Steve Moser found text in the service’s iPhone app code that reads, “Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads”. If viewers can’t download content to their devices on that plan, it means they can’t watch their shows or movies offline.

Netflix neither confirmed nor denied the lack of offline viewing in this offering. However, the streaming service stated to TechCrunch: “We are still in the early days of deciding how to launch a lower priced, ad-supported option and no decisions have been made. So this is all just speculation at this point.”

A month ago, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in an earnings call that the subscription option with ads wouldn’t include all of the service’s licensed content at launch. The company has yet to renegotiate deals with studios to be able to offer their shows and movies along with commercials. Similarly, the lack of a standalone viewing option may have a legitimate reason, other than Netflix’s desire to make subscribers at this level pay more for a premium membership.

TechCrunch noticed that serving ads with offline content can be done in a technically complex way. However, Netflix hasn’t been the only ad-supported streaming platform that doesn’t include offline viewing for a long time. HBO Max and Hulu, for example, don’t have a download feature either. However, judging by Netflix’s announcement, that could still change by the time it launches early next year.

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