For commuters and other viewers who frequently watch on the go, Netflix upcoming ad-supported tier may not be the best streaming option.
Developer Steve Moser discovered text that says “Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads” within the code of the service’s iPhone app.
If viewers are unable to download content to their devices on the tier, they will be unable to watch their shows or movies while offline.
Netflix neither confirmed nor denied the absence of offline viewing with the offering, but it told TechCrunch: “We are still in the early days of deciding how to launch a lower priced, ad-supported option and no decisions have been made. So this is all just speculation at this point.”
During an earnings call in July, Netflix co-CEO and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos admitted that the upcoming subscription option will not include all of the service’s licensed content at launch.
The company must still renegotiate deals with studios in order to offer their shows and movies alongside advertisements. Similarly, the lack of offline viewing may have a legitimate reason other than Netflix’s desire to force the tier’s subscribers to pay more for premium membership.
According to TechCrunch, serving ads with offline content could be technically difficult. In fact, Netflix will not be the only streaming service that offers an ad-supported option without offline viewing.
HBO Max and Hulu, for example, do not have a download function. However, based on Netflix’s statement, things could change before the tier launches early next year.