Netflix’s upcoming ad-supported tier might not be the best streaming option for commuters and other viewers who frequently watch on the go. Developer Steve Moser has discovered text within the code of the service’s iPhone app that says “Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads.” If viewers can’t download content to their devices on the tier, that means they won’t be able to watch their shows or movies while offline. Netflix neither confirmed nor denied the absence of offline viewing with the offering, but it told TechCrunch:
“We are still in the early days of deciding how to launch a lower priced, ad-supported option and no decisions have been made. So this is all just speculation at this point.”
Back in July, Netflix co-CEO and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos admitted in an earnings call that the upcoming subscription option will not include all of the service’s licensed content at launch. The company still has to renegotiate deals with studios to be able to offer their shows and movies alongside ads. Similarly, the absence of offline viewing might also have a legitimate reason other than Netflix wanting to compel the tier’s subscribers to pay more for premium membership.
As TechCrunch notes, it could be technically challenging to serve ads with offline content. In fact, Netflix won’t be the only streaming platform with an ad-supported option that doesn’t come with offline viewing. HBO Max’s and Hulu’s, for instance, don’t have a download function either. Based on Netflix’s statement, though, things could still change by the time the tier launches early next year.