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Netflix offline viewing mode for ’emerging territories’ only?

Netflix is considering an offline viewing mode that would let viewers download content instead of stream it, but don’t expect a UK release anytime soon.

Chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, was speaking to CNBC ahead of the premiere of its latest show, The Crown, when he admitted an offline mode is being considered ─ but only for developing countries.

When pressed for a time-frame for the much-wanted feature, Sarandos said the content streaming company is “looking at it now, we’ll see when,” but failed to divulge any specifics. He added:

“We have talked a lot about this over the years and our belief is that broadband and WiFi becomes more and more ubiquitous, available in more and more places that you are, more and more minutes of the day.

“Now as we’ve launched in more territories, they all have different levels of broadband speeds and WiFI access. So in those countries they have adapted their behaviours to be much more of a downloading culture. So in those emerging markets territories it starts to become a little more interesting.

“We still think for the developed world our thesis has been true but I think as we get into more and more of the undeveloped world and developing countries that we want to find alternatives for people to use Netflix easily.”

Netflix launched in 130 countries at once earlier in 2016, bringing its total reach to 190.

Sarandos is the second Netflix bigwig to mention offline viewing. Netflix chief executive, Reed Hastings, said back in April that it was keeping an “open mind” about the feature.

The idea of downloading content to stream later is not a new one. In fact, rival Amazon Instant Video already offers the option on certain movies and shows. But it is one that would greatly benefit those who have a slow broadband connection unable to cope with 4K or even HD picture quality.

The thing is, why would Netflix go to all the expense and hassle of making the feature without implementing it worldwide? Well, that is likely to do with whether content providers are happy to let Netflix users download it.

The wait for offline viewing continues, then.

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