Talking tech since 2003

I’m here today to talk about something very troubling. Millions of people are affected by this issue, and today, especially, one question begs to be asked.

Why on earth can’t we download videos from Netflix?

netflix-house-of-cardsWhen I’m away from home, I constantly find myself wishing I could pull up a movie or TV show from Netflix. Wi-Fi hasn’t taken over our neighborhoods and towns, as much as we’d like that to be the case. So we’re left with wireless carriers who would love for us to stream House of Cards for 13 hours, especially when we’re paying $15 overage fees for each GB.

I’m certainly not giving Verizon more money. I would, however, pay Netflix more if it meant that I could take a couple TV episodes and movies with me and watch them without an Internet connection.

Providing an offline mode could actually improve the home viewing experience, too. Recent data from Netflix shows that download speeds are dropping for customers with Comcast and Verizon FiOS. Instead of sacrificing the stream quality to keep the video playing, why not let subscribers download the video at its highest quality and then watch it?

Such a move isn’t unprecedented. Amazon Prime Instant Video, a competitor to Netflix, already allows this for subscribers who own a Kindle Fire HDX. On the music side of things, almost every music subscription service has offered an offline mode, from the “Plays For Sure” days all the way up to Spotify.

These services understand the reality of our connected world. While we can do a lot of great things with our smartphones and tablets, the wireless infrastructure we have in place isn’t friendly to heavy music and video streaming.

It feels like we have the tools and the services of the future, but that one piece of the puzzle is missing. I’ve talked quite a bit about how our currently wireless state is leaving a lot of potential on the table, and this is just another example. LTE isn’t a replacement for wired broadband as much as it is an emergency fallback — at least, that’s how it’s priced — so why force us to stream when it’s not practical?

Amazon’s customers seem to be taking to the new feature on the company’s Kindle Fire tablets, so perhaps that’ll get Netflix moving in a similar direction. It would certainly up my Netflix usage, and I’d be a lot happier with the service if I could use it anywhere. Netflix would be doing its customers one heck of a solid by offering a way to take movies and TV shows offline.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

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