Netflix might introduce offline viewing after all

Turns out not everyone in the world has enough bandwidth to stream 4K

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Ever since Netflix launched its online video service in 2007 it's been a strictly streaming-only affair, but according to CEO Reed Hastings that might be about to change.

During the company's Q1 earnings call Re/code asked Netflix about this long-standing commitment to only offering streaming video, which it has repeatedly claimed it will not be compromising on.

On this occasion, however, Hastings was more open to the idea of allowing users to download videos, as Youtube and Amazon Prime Video do. "We should keep an open mind on this," he said. "We've been so focused on click-and-watch and the beauty and simplicity of streaming. But as we expand around the world, where we see an uneven set of networks, it's something we should keep an open mind about."

Problems to solve

It's not exactly a solid confirmation, but it's nice to see Netflix admit that not everyone has access to the types of network speeds that will allow them to stream pristine 4K video. This will become especially apparent as Netflix moves into countries with more ropey internet infrastructure.

The move would not be a simple one for Netflix, as presumably its current library of content is currently licensed on a 'streaming only' basis from rights holders.

In cases where Netflix itself holds the rights to shows this shouldn't be much of an issue, but others might not be so simple. What's more, there's a potential problem in catalogues varying from country to country (something Netflix wants to change).

Until we receive more details of Netflix's intentions, we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed that we'll one day be able to enjoy Kevin Spacey's dulcet tones on the train.

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