Tech, Now + Beyond

Netflix is letting us download shows now, so there go our weekends

This is literally the highest possible level of convenience Netflix viewers could have been given.

As of this week, Netflix has reached more than 94 million subscribers. In the last 3 months of 2016 alone, 5 million new people subscribed to Netflix!

What brought about this huge increase?  A lot of Netflix’s most recent success can be attributed to the Gilmore Girls revival, which gathered international hype regardless of its earlier reputation as an American show for a very particular generation of women (heads up, the original series is way better!). The birth of the Netflix Original Series also played a role in the rising number of subscribers (Stranger Things, anyone?). In addition, Netflix has become a place for popular Youtube stars (Miranda Sings being just one example) and comedians (Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, among others) to do something more in the realm of shows and movies; after all, Netflix has a built-in audience!

However, the biggest change Netflix has made that has hugely impacted its number of subscribers is its new feature of select shows and movies being downloadable for offline viewing. This is literally the highest possible level of convenience Netflix viewers could have been given; the only thing that could make it better is if this feature applied to all shows and movies. Downloadable, offline viewing has been in demand since day one, so it was obviously met with a crazy amount of approval, and anyone who wasn’t on the Netflix bandwagon before (for reasons I will personally never understand) is definitely on board now.

Similar to Spotify Premium, you do need internet connection to download a show or movie from Netflix. Using WiFi to download titles is your best bet, just to save on data if you do not have unlimited data. You also need to have access to either iOS 8 (or anything more recent) or Android 4.4.3 (or anything more recent). Finally, your version of the Netflix app must also be updated to the latest possible version. What’s cool is that any device on which you have access to the latest Netflix app will have the saved title ready for playback, the title does not get saved to any particular device, but rather to your Netflix account.

So, like me when I first heard this news, you must be wondering: what’s the catch?

To be honest, there are a few potential catches.

For starters, you will definitely need a ton of storage space in order to benefit from Netflix’s new feature. If you don’t have enough storage space, your best bet will be downloading one title (perhaps in anticipation of a long flight) and watching it, only to delete it immediately afterward, making room for the next download. To some, this can be a bit tedious. It also takes away the possibility of downloading enough shows to binge-watch a series.

It’s also a little frustrating that you may not always be able to download the version of whichever title you’ve chosen that has the highest video quality. Netflix has chosen a standard video quality of 720×480, which is satisfying for most users that are watching the video on their phone or tablet. However, high definition videos that you may want to have for television viewing will obviously take longer to download and ultimately take up more storage space on your smaller devices – just something to keep in mind.

Despite these catches, I’m still pretty thrilled as someone who sits on buses for several hours at a time every few weeks and has tons of Netflix to catch up on but not enough data to watch online.

Speaking of Netflix, I need to go re-live my literary childhood by binging on The Series of Unfortunate Events now…till then Aafia Syed from The Tempest, signing out.