Netflix Adds Downloads And Offline Playback To Its Movie And TV Show Streaming Empire

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It’s been rumored for quite some time, but now it’s finally here. Netflix today announced that it is bringing offline playback functionality for all of its customers. Offline playback is currently available with the latest Netflix apps for both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms.

“While many members enjoy watching Netflix at home, we’ve often heard they also want to continue their Stranger Things binge while on airplanes and other places where internet is expensive or limited,” explains Netflix. “Just click the download button on the details page for a film or TV series and you can watch it later without an internet connection.”

But before you start jumping for joy at the thoughts of Netflix’s entire streaming library being available for offline playback, there are some restrictions. For now, all TV shows produced by Netflix — including Stranger Things, Orange is The New Black, Narcos and The Crown — are supported along with a number of NBC shows like The Office and 30 Rock. You’ll also find AMC hits like Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

On the movie side, you’ll run across titles like Pulp Fiction, Dazed and Confused, Good Will Hunting and Minions. Given that offline playback is just now launching, it’s understandable that supported titles are still a bit spotty. However, as Netflix works out rights issues with content providers, we should see the number of available programming for offline playback expand as the new year approaches.

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It should be noted that there are some other concessions to offline playback as outlined by this entry on Netflix’s help page:

Standard quality is a slightly lower video resolution that requires less storage space and takes less time to download. Higher quality is a higher video resolution that requires more storage space and takes more time to download.

In practice, the standard quality setting is passable when it comes to image quality, while the high quality setting (which still doesn’t give the you the highest resolution available with streaming options) will be your best option at the expense of storage space. The bottom line is that streaming is still your best bet if you want the highest video playback quality possible, while you’ll have to “settle” with the offline viewing option.

Overall, this is a welcome move by Netflix for customers that want to take advantage of the movies and TV shows that the company has to offer, but don’t always have a stable internet connection when on-the-go.