Netflix allowing users to download shows to binge-watch offline

Netflix is allowing users to download shows to watch offline.

Now you can add some binge watching to your commute.

Netflix began rolling out offline viewing for select titles Wednesday, a move it had been signaling for months, in a bid to better compete in the crowded streaming market.

The move stands to pay immediate dividends for riders seeking another form of entertainment in a city and region with the longest average commute times in the country.

Some riders, like Annie Lockwood, 22, who has to travel an hour between her home on Long Island to her job in midtown, said they were excited for the new option.

“I’m usually bored out of my mind on the train,” she said. “If I could watch Netflix, it would be perfect.”

Offline viewing is currently available to subscribers who have the Netflix app on iOS 8.0 devices or later and Android devices 4.4.2 or later. 

Not everything in Netflix’s vast library is available to download just yet. The recently released “Gilmore Girls” revival, for example, remains only available streamed. You can, however, download everything from the Netflix-owned “Stranger Things,” “The Crown” and “Narcos,” to licensed shows and movies like “Parks and Recreation” and “Spotlight.”

The move marks a shift from the company’s previous position that offline viewing would not happen because of economic and technical logistics. Other streaming services, such as Amazon Prime and Starz Play, forced Netflix’s hand by making content available for download first, according to Paul Levinson, a Fordham University professor of media studies.

Because Netflix remains the dominant force in the subscription service market, the move stands to affect viewing habits in a way the previous moves didn’t, Levinson said. Netflix has 47.5 million United States subscribers.

“I think it’s a big development and part of this overall trend of letting people watch when they want, wherever they might be. Netflix itself made some important strides in that area since it launched as a DVD mail rental service,” he said.

Not every New Yorker, however, is thrilled about the development. Alexis Brown, 21, of Harlem, said she can’t stand it when a commuter loiters in the train with their face glued to their phone.

“It’s just going to make people move slower,” she said. 

How offline Netflix works:

Users can download select programs and movies to any device that runs on iOS 8.0 or later and Android 4.4.2 or later.

When they head to a program’s listing page, there will be button that allows them to download it in either standard definition or high definition. HD versions take up more space and take longer to download.

Each show or movie has its own time limit for watching. Selections that expire under seven days will display how much time you have left on that title on the “My Downloads” page of the Netflix app.

For some titles, offline viewing must be completed within 48 hours of starting the play. Due to licensing agreements, some offerings can be watched a certain finite number of times.

Ivan Pereira