Netflix looks at offline mode for some countries

Ted Sarandos

Ted Sarandos

Netflix is looking at introducing an offline-viewing mode in developing countries to make to easier for viewers to access content.

In an interview with CNBC, chief content officer Ted Sarandos said that content downloads is something that Netflix is “looking at now” but did not say when this would roll out.

“We have talked a lot about this over the years and our belief is that broadband and WiFi [will] become more and more ubiquitous,” Sarandos told CNBC.

However, he said that since Netflix launched in 130 new countries in January – including markets like Africa and the Middle East for the first time – it provides its service in markets where broadband speeds and access is variable and there is “much more of downloading culture.”

“In those emerging territories it starts to become a little more interesting. We still think for the developed world our thesis has been true, but I think as we get into more and more [of the] undeveloped world and developing countries we want to find alternatives for people to use Netflix easily.”

The comments come after Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said on the company’s first quarter earnings call in April that Netflix will keep “an open mind” about offering downloads for offline viewing.

Hastings said that so far Netflix had focused on “click-and-watch and the beauty and simplicity of streaming,” but added that “as we expand around the world, where we see an uneven set of networks, it’s something we should keep an open mind about.”

Netflix rival Amazon, which earlier this year launched Prime Video as a standalone pay-monthly service for the first time in the US, already offers offline viewing, as does YouTube with its US YouTube Red subscription service.