Netflix Inc. isn’t planning to let users of its new ad-supported tier download shows and movies to their devices for offline viewing, according to code found inside of the company’s iPhone app, removing a feature that customers enjoy on its regular service.
This move shows that Netflix wants to differentiate its upcoming service and other services. Netflix, which has avoided advertising for many years, plans to launch the ad-supported service by next year. The code in the iPhone app already contains hints of this new service.
“Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads,” according to text in the app that was discovered by developer Steve Moser and shared with Bloomberg News. The code also suggests that users won’t be able to skip ads — a common move in the streaming world — and playback controls won’t be available during ad breaks.
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Netflix did not respond to our request for comment. Given that the service’s launch is several months away, it’s likely that the company’s plans aren’t yet final and its approach could still change.
However, early signs suggest that Netflix will be limiting its ad-based services to the essentials. Netflix’s regular plans allow users to download content that can be viewed in areas without an internet connection, like airplanes. Netflix may be able to sell its users higher-end subscriptions if they don’t offer that option. The Los Gatos, California-based company has already said that it won’t offer all of its content on the ad tier.
Netflix is losing customers, and now faces competition from Walt Disney Co. (Amazon.com Inc.) and Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.’s HBO Max. The largest market for the company, Americas and Canada saw it lose 1.3 Million customers during its last quarter.
Rival services such as Disney’s Hulu, Warner Bros.’ HBO Max and Comcast Corp.’s Peacock already rely on ad-supported tiers to fuel growth. You can also disable the download option in budget services such as HBO Max.
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Netflix’s app has additional hidden references to its ad expansion, including text about helping Netflix tailor ads to specific users. “Now, let’s set up your ad experience. Just a few details are needed to ensure that you see the most relevant advertisements on Netflix. It’ll be really quick, we promise!” one message reads.
The ad-supported tier will provide a cheaper alternative to customers scared off by the service’s rising prices. The service’s premium level, which offers 4K resolution and up to four streams at the same, is $20 a month in the US.
Netflix previously stated that the ad-based Netflix service would be offered in many regions, and that Microsoft Corp. will act as its technology and sales partner for the advertising system.
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