Netflix subscribers in the US won’t be enjoying downloadable content any time soon.
Fans of Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black might want to save content for later off-line viewing, but that’s something that Netflix is considering only for international audiences right now, apparently. It simply isn’t as valuable for domestic US audiences, the streaming giant said, given the penetration for broadband and Wi-Fi throughout the United States.
In an interview with CNBC, content chief Ted Sarandos said that Netflix was “looking closely at this option”—but added that it makes the most sense for countries that don't have the same consistent Internet availability as users in the States.
“We have talked a lot about this over the years and our belief is that broadband and Wi-Fi become more and more ubiquitous, available in more and more places that you are, more and more minutes of the day," Sarandos told CNBC. “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 that we want to find alternatives for people to use Netflix easily."
Investors said that the focus on international makes sense. “Remember not all of that $6 billion in content is going towards domestic programming,” said Seeking Alpha’s the Entertainment Oracle. “The company is also focusing on content that appeals to foreign audiences as well as producing shows in other languages. The idea of international appeal is how the network helps justifies a show like The Crown, which carries a reported $130 million price tag. The thinking is that good storytelling is universal and audiences from around the globe should have interest in the products they produce, so if it costs more so be it.”
As Netflix works to expand internationally, where the bulk of future profits are, architecting the service to be more adoptable and useful will be key. Ironically, the thinking is that the same will have an opposite effect in the domestic market.
“Essentially by giving people in the US the option, [Netflix fears that] they will get overwhelmed by all the choices, and end up downloading nothing, negating the point,” the Oracle said.
It’s well worth noting that Amazon allows downloads on its Fire TV tablets as part of its Prime plans. But Amazon limits how much a person can download and store at one time.