Netflix has updated its mobile app to allow subscribers to download videos and watch them offline. The new feature reflects intense competition in the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) space, as platforms race to add features to match or beat rivals.
The move comes on the heels of AT&T’s entrance into the growing streaming TV market. The carrier is offering consumers a $35 a month package of more than 100 channels via its DirecTV Now service. The over-the-top (OTT) market is expected to get even more crowded as other players like Hulu and YouTube unveil new services next year.
Netflix’s new feature is fairly simple. Once subscribers download the latest update, they can click the download button on the details page for a film or TV series and watch it later without an internet connection. The app also has a separate “Available for Download” page where users can access the video content. Currently, the selection available is limited, and most of the choices are Netflix’s own original content like “Orange Is the New Black” and “Stranger Things.” The company says more content will be offered in the near future.
The download feature is already available on some SVOD platforms, but not all. YouTube Red and Amazon’s Prime Video, for example, offer limited content available for download.
eMarketer estimates that 70.4% of US internet users watch videos via OTT services, with relatively little growth forecast for the next few years. But that reflects the fact that the measure covers a wide range of platforms, particularly YouTube, making it difficult for overall penetration levels to grow. eMarketer estimates that 67.3% of internet users are YouTube viewers, while 44.9% of internet users are Netflix viewers.