Code in the Netflix app suggests ad-supported tier may ax offline downloads

If you thought ad-supported Netflix would just be the regular service with a few commercial breaks, then I regret to inform you that you were wrong. According to Netflix app code language, discovered by developer Steve Moser and shared with BloombergNetflix may limit offline downloads to Netflix’s ad-free levels.

Currently, Netflix has three tiers. For $9.99 a month, you get standard definition content and the ability to watch TV on one screen at a time. Pay $14.99 a month and you get HD and the ability to watch on two screens at once. If you want to watch everything in UHD (with 4K and HDR), you’ll have to shell out $19.99. You will also be able to watch on four screens at once.

It’s no real surprise that Netflix plans to keep downloads offline for those paying for the service’s ad-free version. Earlier this year Co-CEO Ted Sarandos said the ad-supported tier won’t include the same content as the ad-free one, and the ad-supported tiers are intended to be a gateway tier that gives people a head start. taste at a lower price. And there’s the difficulty of showing ads on offline content. It’s not an impossible challenge, but it’s tricky. Also, Netflix already puts other things behind paywalls that could be standard. I pay $19.99 a month for Netflix so I can get the most out of my very nice 4K TV with support for multiple forms of HDR — not because I need to be able to watch four streams at once.

But historically, Netflix hasn’t treated offline downloads as an advantage. In 2016, when Netflix finally started allowing offline downloads, Sarandos told CNBC this was to support emerging markets where Wi-Fi was spotty. At the time, Netflix was already behind for offline viewing. Amazon Prime let you download stuff you’ve wanted to watch later for years. One would assume that people who haven’t yet subscribed to Netflix cite reasons other than price — like spotty internet.

In July, Microsoft announced it would be Netflix’s technical and business partner, effectively providing the infrastructure to serve ads on the new level. The new ad-supported tier for Netflix is ​​expected to launch in 2023. We’ve reached out to Netflix for comment and will update if we get back to you.

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