As Amazon Prime gets set to officially move into the Australian market, Netflix has moved to allow subscribers to download content.
In the past Netflix management said that letting people download shows added too much “complexity” to its experience.
Now they are chasing additional revenue from their new download service.
Other video apps such as the new Amazon Prime Video already lets viewers watch content when offline.
Netflix said some of its original programmes were already available to download and more would be made available in the future.
“It’s surprising because just weeks ago they said it wasn’t going to happen,” said Tom Harrington from the consultancy Enders Analysis.
“You can understand why they wouldn’t want to do it because it opens up a whole pot of rights issues. Offering a download service will cost Netflix more.
“But everyone else is already doing it. Amazon is doing it, and Netflix doesn’t want to be left behind, or compared unfavourably to rivals.”
At this point, only certain shows and films are available to download, with a new ‘Available to download’ section containing the relevant content.
The company explained in a blog post: “While many members enjoy watching Netflix at home, we’ve often heard they also want to continue their Stranger Things binge while on airplanes and other places where Internet is expensive or limited.
“Just click the download button on the details page for a film or TV series and you can watch it later without an internet connection.”
To activate the seriously useful new feature, all you need to do is update to the newest version of Netflix on your smartphone or tablet.
Then, fire the app up and – just like Netflix says – you’ll be presented with the new download option on select shows.
You’ll see a new ‘Download & Go’ icon appear next to certain content to show it is available for offline viewing, or you can navigate to the ‘Available to download’ section to see a selection of what’s on offer.
Some of the highlights? Netflix original series Narcos is currently available to download, as is smash hit Stranger Things, plus The Crown and Orange Is The New Black, with more set to come according to the blog post.
The company has also added new settings for controlling the download functionality. You can set your device to only download over Wi-Fi, plus, there’s the ability to set the quality of downloaded files, along with a ‘Delete All Downloads’ option.
The new feature is available on phones and tablets worldwide, on all types of Netflix plans, and represents something of a sea-change for the popular streaming service, which once famously said that it would never offer offline viewing – because the option was ‘too complex’ for most users.