Netflix has a new way to get content in front of subscribers: It launched a feature that will automatically download TV shows or movies you might be interested in to your smartphone in based on your preferences and viewing history, so you can watch them in offline mode.
The new Downloads For You feature is available on Netflix’s Android app globally starting Monday (Feb. 22), after the company tested it out with select users in late 2020. Netflix said it will test out Downloads For You in the iOS version of its app soon.
Netflix three years ago first introduced Smart Downloads, an offline-viewing feature that pulls in the next episode of your favorite shows. Now it’s trying to get users hooked by proactively pushing content to their smartphone or tablet so it’s available to watch even if they’re disconnected.
Netflix says most — not all — content in its catalog is available to be downloaded and watched offline, with some exceptions based on licensing rights.
“We’re excited to introduce Downloads For You. People who choose this new feature will have shows or movies automatically downloaded to their devices, with recommendations based on their tastes,” Patrick Flemming, Netflix’s director of product innovation, said in a statement. “We want to make discovering your next new favorite series or film even easier, whether you’re connected or not.”
It’s the latest in Netflix’s ever-expanding tool set to get its more than 200 million streaming subscribers watching as much content as possible, given that higher usage correlates with lower cancelation rates. Another recently introduced feature is “shuffle play,” rolling out worldwide in the first half of 2021 on connected TVs, which lets subscribers press a button and randomly start streaming a recommended title or one from their watch list.
With the Downloads For You feature, Netflix emphasized that users have control of how much video is downloaded to their device.
To enable the feature, users must go to the Downloads tab on the app and switch on Downloads For You. Then they can choose the maximum amount of content they want downloaded — 1 gigabyte, 3 GB or 5GB — and click Turn On. The more space you allow, the more recommendations Netflix will download for you.