Netflix offline viewing is finally here

Tweets from Netflix US and UK appear to show that the streaming service is preparing to allow its users to download shows for offline viewing.

The announcement itself was accompanied by a screenshot from footage of The Crown, House of Cards, Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang, Stranger Things, Narcos, Orange is the New Black and Black Mirror. 

The keen eyed Netflix fans amongst you will notice that all of these shows are Netflix original productions, but we've also seen that non-Netflix shows such as Community, Parks and Rec and The IT Crowd are also available to download. 

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Download functionality has been made available today via an update which is 41MB in size. 

TechRadar has been able to verify that the update is available in both the UK and USA, on both iOS and Android. 

Once the update has been installed, users can download applicable shows by selecting the download option from the episode list, as shown below. 

Users can view every title that's available to download in a specific section of the app titled 'Available to Download' which sits alongside other program categories. 

The long road to download

Netflix has been cagey about supporting offline viewing in the past. As recently as 2015, Netflix's Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt said, "I feel like what consumers want is not the download model."

He continued, "What they want is the ability to consume anywhere they happen to be. And that might be on a plane, on a train, in a car or outside."

"I think the download model is fairly complex. You have to plan ahead; if you're planning for a long flight you're going to need quite a lot of storage to hold maybe several titles and a lot of time to prep that download. And I think that's challenging."

However more recently rumors have begun to emerge about Netflix planning to support downloads and offline viewing. 

During the company's Q1 earnings call in 2016, CEO Reed Hastings said, "We should keep an open mind on this," before continuing, "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."

More recently an analyst from Frost & Sullivan called Netflix's offline plans an 'open secret' within the industry

Jon Porter

Jon Porter is the ex-Home Technology Writer for TechRadar. He has also previously written for Practical Photoshop, Trusted Reviews, Inside Higher Ed, Al Bawaba, Gizmodo UK, Genetic Literacy Project, Via Satellite, Real Homes and Plant Services Magazine, and you can now find him writing for The Verge.