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Netflix’s ad-supported plan may block offline viewing, code suggests



Netflix’s ad-supported plan

Netflix’s upcoming ad-supported tier could have a big drawback — besides the fact that your programming will be interrupted by commercials, that is. One of the streaming service’s more useful features, offline viewing, may not be available to members on this low-end tier of the service.

This discovery came about when developer Steve Moser found code within the Netflix iPhone app that suggested the streamer will block users from downloading titles to their devices for offline viewing.

Downloads are available on all plans except Netflix with ads.

Text in the code stated, “Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads.” It also suggested users would be directed to personalize their ad experience and would not be able to skip commercials, as is expected.

Netflix declined to comment. Given that the service’s launch is several months away, it’s likely that the company’s plans aren’t yet final and its approach could still change.

Still, the early clues suggest Netflix is strictly limiting the frills on the ad-based service. With its regular plans, users can download content for viewing in places without reliable internet access, such as airplanes. The lack of that option could help Netflix upsell users to its higher-end tiers after it hooks them on the ad-supported version. The Los Gatos, California-based company has already said that it won’t offer all of its content on the ad tier.

Currently, Netflix subscribers can download shows and films to watch offline –

handy when traveling by plane, say, or going somewhere with patchy internet coverage. This applies to all members, no matter which tier they are on. But those on the ad-supported tier would miss out on this feature, as well as on the full content library that other members can enjoy.

Netflix was recently overtaken by Disney Plus for paying subscribers – a phenomenal achievement, considering the House of Mouse has only been in the streaming business for less than three years. It too will launch an ad tier, but later this year, whereas Netflix won’t land until early 2023.

As ever, the price will be key if Netflix hopes to wrestle back its streaming crown. How much would you pay for Netflix with ads?

Chengyi Long, director of product innovation at Netflix, said earlier this year –

that sharing accounts were “impacting the company’s ability to invest in new movies and television shows”.

An early trial in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru was understood to have caused some confusion in the countries, with some members being asked to pay more and others left alone.

A second trial was launched in July in Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. Users there are prompted to pay extra if they use an account outside their nominated ‘primary’ household for over two weeks.

Depending on where they are located, this costs an additional NZ$1.30 to NZ$3.30 per month.

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