A significant disadvantage to Netflix’s upcoming ad-supported tier may exist, aside from the fact that commercial breaks will occur during your programming. Members of this budget-friendly tier of the service might not have access to offline viewing, one of the more practical features of the streaming service.
Developer Steve Moser made this discovery after he discovered code in the Netflix iPhone app that implied the streaming service will prohibit customers from downloading movies to their devices for offline viewing.
“Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with advertisements,” the text in the code read. It implied consumers would not be able to skip commercials as is typical and would instead be directed to tailor their ad experience.
Moser’s results, which were also posted on the developer’s personal blog, were the basis for the story’s initial coverage by Bloomberg. Although it hinted that it would be included in the finished release, Netflix declined to comment on the downloads function in particular.
“No decisions have been taken; we are still in the early stages of deciding how to create a more affordable, ad-supported option. So, at this moment, everything is simply conjectured, a Netflix representative informed us.
While the streaming juggernaut is still working up the ad-supported tier and anticipates launching it in early 2023, this discovery could give Netflix members seeking a less expensive method to stream a preview of what’s to come. The removal of the download option from the ad-supported service will probably discourage some users from upgrading, which may, at least in part, be the aim.
Without this crucial function, those who frequently use the feature, such as frequent travelers, would be forced to purchase more expensive plans.
In its decision, Netflix wouldn’t be the only one. The ad-supported streaming services HBO Max, Peacock, and others frequently don’t provide a download option either. Only premium subscribers have access to offline viewing of the material.
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It can be technically difficult to correctly implement advertising attribution on offline material. For instance, Hulu launched offline watching on its streaming service years after its competitors. It didn’t include the option until 2019, years after Netflix and Amazon, two of its competitors, had.
Although the corporation never provided an official justification, it’s possible that ad attribution problems had demanded more engineering manpower. The ad-supported tier of it still prohibits downloads.
Hulu might have also questioned if such a feature should even be a priority in a world where connectivity issues are becoming less frequent.
Netflix’s relative inexperience in the advertising industry and partnership with Microsoft to run its ad-supported model complicate matters. It may therefore be out of its control to what extent it can or cannot enable offline viewing.
The new low-cost tier may have flaws other than only the absence of the downloads feature. The company just said that several TV shows and movies won’t be available when the ad-supported version launches. Early in 2023, Netflix plans to roll out the new ad-supported plan. It has not yet been decided on the precise price.