Ad-supported Netflix, I’m sorry to say, is not the same as the regular service with a few commercial breaks sprinkled throughout. Netflix may restrict offline downloading to the ad-free tiers, as suggested by text in the app’s code that was discovered by developer Steve Moser and shared with Bloomberg.
There are now three different Netflix plans available. Standard definition programming and single-screen viewing are included in the $9.99 monthly fee. For an additional $14.99 a month, you can enjoy high definition content on two screens at once. UHD (with 4K and HDR) content costs an additional $19.99 per month. In addition, you’ll have access to four screens simultaneously.
It’s not shocking that Netflix would limit offline downloads to subscribers to its ad-free service. Ad-supported tiers are meant to be a gateway tier that provides users a sample at a lesser price, as previously stated by co-CEO Ted Sarandos earlier this year. In addition, Netflix already blocks access to other content that could become the norm. It’s not that I need to watch four streams at once that costs me $19.99 per month to subscribe to Netflix; it’s that I want to make the most of my very nice 4K TV with support for multiple types of HDR.
In the past, however, Netflix hasn’t considered offline downloading a benefit. Sarandos explained to CNBC in 2016 that the reason Netflix now permits offline downloads is to accommodate users in developing countries with patchy Internet access. Netflix was a laggard in the offline video game at the time. For years, subscribers to Amazon Prime could store videos for offline viewing. People who aren’t currently Netflix subscribers likely have other problems, such as unreliable connections, in addition to the service’s high price.
Microsoft, which has been Netflix’s ad tech and sales partner since July, is supplying the technical backbone for the ad-supported streaming service’s premium tier. Netflix’s new ad-supported tier is scheduled to go live in 2023. We have contacted Netflix for comment and will provide an update as soon as we learn more.