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Why Netflix won’t offer offline viewing

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Posted at 10:02 PM, Sep 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-08 22:02:18-04

NEW YORK — Watching movies offline is a nice idea, but Netflix isn’t convinced that a lot of people will actually do it.

“It’s not going to be instant, you have to have the right storage on your device, you have to manage it, and I’m just not sure people are actually that compelled to do that,” Neil Hunt, Netflix’s chief product officer, told Gizmodo.

Last week, Amazon updated its video apps for iOS and Android devices so that customers can download shows to watch offline.

Many people were excited about the change and wondered when Netflix would do the same. But the company hasn’t budged on its position on online viewing — one it’s been touting for many years.

Instead of focusing on offline viewing features, Netflix says it wants to improve the “streaming experience,” according to Anne Marie Squeo, a company spokeswoman.

“With Internet speeds climbing and Wi-Fi available in more and more places, the ability to stream live wherever you are will make downloading less relevant over time,” Squeo told CNNMoney in an email.

Hunt told Gizmodo that giving customers the option of offline viewing might even “paralyze” indecisive people.

Citing the book ‘Paradox of Choice’,” Hunt said that, in Netflix’s experience, adding choice scares customers away. For example, Netflix once tried letting people rate movies and shows with half stars, he explained, and the number of total ratings submitted dropped 11%.

Even so, if demand for offline viewing is high, and more streaming services offer the feature, Netflix may be pressured to offer the option eventually.