Here's the real reason why Netflix gave us offline viewing

Netflix’s Todd Yellin has told TechRadar that ‘in retrospect’ the company should have added offline functionality before it did last year, and that it’s been a great success. 

Launching its streaming service across the world prompted a rethink from Netflix, who had famously insisted that it would never allow its users to download content, with the needs of an international audience (without solid internet connections) of paramount importance. 

The about-face was exacerbated for many by the company’s failure to make a wider announcement about the new feature when it finally did arrive in December last year.  

“It’s a successful feature,” conceded Yellin, the VP of Product Innovation. “They are [downloading] in Europe and they are doing it in the US. 

“We learned that, even if we didn’t launch it in those placed, it’s a successful feature and we would have done it in retrospect and it’s good stuff.”

Netflix has been battling for purchase in many of the nations it launched en masse into last year, and the offline functionality is a key addition in those territories.  

“Launching globally, like we did last year, made us reconsider decisions we made earlier, one of them was the download feature,” added Yellin.

“For a long time we were thinking the internet is going to be so ubiquitous you can get it any place. So we said ‘with ubiquitous internet nobody is going to need to download anything so why don’t we keep going with that?’. 

“Then we launched in places like India and the Philippines where the bandwidth isn’t good and their internet isn’t ubiquitous, it’s the opposite of that.”

Why the lack of fanfare?

Given that it’s a useful feature, and it’s being used by people globally, TechRadar was keen to know why Amazon didn’t make more of a fanfare about its arrival. 

“My trumpet was in the repair shop,” joked Yellin. “Sorry – I’m being a wiseass, it’s been a long day.

“I don’t know, we just want to make the experience better so we didn’t talk out to press a lot.

“We wanted to make sure our members knew because it’s the members that matter… that’s the kind of fanfare that we wanted and I think we did that effectively.”

Updated: March 6, 2017 — 9:27 am

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