Netflix's Ad-Supported Tiers May Not Support Offline Downloads

If you don't want to cough up the cash, you can't go offline.


Between its massive market share and rising subscription prices, Netflix is having to look for other ways to gain and retain viewers; one of the most talked-about is the possibility of an ad-supported tier. If you're used to watching your TV shows and movies offline, though, you may need to keep the more expensive, ad-free subscription, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Initially spotted by developer Steve Moser, code in Netflix's app indicates that offline downloads will not be available for those on Netflix's ad-supported tier, leaving the option as a perk for ad-free users.

Last month, Netflix said that the service's ad-supported tier or tiers might not include all content.

"The vast majority of what people watch on Netflix, we could include in the ad-supported tier today," said Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos. "There are some things that [wouldn't be included], that we are in conversation with the studios on, but if we launched the product today the members in the ad tier would have a great experience. And we will clear some additional content, but certainly not all of it."

The new tier won't just be "Netflix with Ads," it seems, but will have its own peculiarities and feature sets. Some studios, for example, may have agreements in place that prevent their content from being shown on a free service. This could even include so-called Netflix Originals that are produced by outside studios, like Cobra Kai and Russian Doll.

Downloads, meanwhile, have historically been intended not as a feature, but as a way for people on unstable connections to have a good viewing experience. This would seem to turn the former band-aid into a paid extra.

Netflix currently offers three tiers: $9.99 per month for standard definition video and viewing on a single screen; $14.99 per month for HD video and two screens; and $19.99 for UltraHD and four screens. Netflix has not yet revealed how much the ad-supported version of the service will cost, but Netflix is expected to launch the new option sometime in 2023.

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