Users are discovering that Netflix downloads come with limits

netflix public binge watch tablet outdoors
Bialasiewicz/123RF

Toward the end of last year Netflix finally got around to letting users download movies and shows onto their mobile devices so they could watch stuff on the go and in places that lack Wi-Fi. But it turns out there are limits on how much fun you can have with the feature, though Netflix appears to prefer to let you find out for yourself.

Put simply, some of the content only allows a finite number of downloads, or “renews” as Netflix calls it.

As things stand, if you fail to watch a downloaded movie before its expiration date, which for some content could be as short as 48 hours after you first hit “play,” you’ll probably want to download it again. It’s these downloads that are limited, a reality that some Netflix users are finding rather annoying, according to Android Police.

While you might have good intentions to watch a movie within the allotted time when you first send it to your mobile device, there’ll be occasions when you just don’t get around to firing it up during your daily commute or travels farther afield.

If you find yourself downloading the same content several times — whether to finish watching it or to enjoy the whole thing again — you’re likely to see a warning message saying you can only do one more download until a particular date, apparently a year after the first time you downloaded it.

If you’re halfway through the show or movie, the limitation means you’ll just have to find time to watch it at home or switch to streaming if conditions permit.

As Android Police points out, the rules are set by those who hold the rights to the content, so Netflix is simply keeping within the terms of its contract. However, it’s fair to say it’s kept pretty quiet about it, choosing to inform users only when they have one download left.

Netflix has added a note to its Help section, but it’s rather vague, saying that studio limits mean that “some titles” can only be renewed “a certain number of times.”

The company held back from offering offline viewing from a long time but finally relented in November 2016, partly in response to growing competition from the likes of Amazon, which a year earlier became the first major subscription streaming service to offer movie and TV show downloads for offline viewing.