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Netflix’s ad tier won’t let you download content for offline viewing

Netflix’s ad-supported tier is likely to land early next year, and snippets of information about the offering are continuing to drop.

The latest is that subscribers to Netflix’s ad tier will not be able to download content to their devices for offline viewing, according to a Bloomberg report on Wednesday, August 17.

The news outlet’s report is based on the findings of developer Steve Moser after he examined the code inside Netflix’s iPhone app. The message in the code was unequivocal, reading: “Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads.”

Preventing downloads would remove a key feature enjoyed by current Netflix subscribers. Being able to download content to a device makes it easier for folks to access content while out and about and prevents having to use precious data if Wi-Fi is unavailable. It’s also useful in locations where the Wi-Fi is unreliable, or if no mobile service exists.

Bloomberg’s report also says that playback controls will be disabled while ads play, preventing subscribers to the tier from skipping through them.

Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos revealed last month that Netflix’s ad-based tier will not include all of the streaming site’s licensed content at launch, though this is down to the current licensing terms with studios rather than any desire on the part of Netflix to restrict the range of movies and shows available to customers on its cheapest tier.

Sarandos said, “The vast majority of what people watch on Netflix, we can include in the ad-supported tier,” adding that the company is in talks with studios to try to increase the amount of content available in the ad tier.

Netflix is expected to launch its ad tier in early 2023. The monthly cost for the service has yet to be announced, but we do know that it will be less than $10 as that’s the current cost of Basic, its best-priced tier.

Netflix recently reported the loss of nearly a million subscribers during the April-to-June quarter. While its subscriber base still looks impressive with just over 220 million customers globally, it’s facing increasing competition from Disney+, Amazon’s Prime Video, and Hulu, among others.

Ramping up the pressure, Disney+ recently announced it will launch its own ad tier on December 8, 2022. The monthly subscription fee for the most basic service will be $8. It means the current monthly fee of $8 for the ad-free tier will rise to $11, or $110 per year.

Digital Trends has reached out to Netflix for comment on its apparent decision to prevent downloads with its ad tier and we will update this report when we hear back.

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Trevor Mogg
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