Netflix and YouTube’s New Announcements Shows Why Offering Download Is Crucial
Downloading videos is increasingly becoming a priority for streaming video viewers. More viewers are downloading than ever before, and they’re watching downloads everywhere: at home, at work, on the go, and when traveling. The most recent service to get on the downloading bandwagon is YouTube TV, who just launched a new paid tier called 4K Plus, which enables viewers to watch in higher quality and also to download content for offline viewing. The additional capabilities will cost subscribers an extra $20/month, meaning YouTube sees the high value of downloading and good quality to viewers.
On the other hand, Netflix has understood the importance of downloads for years, and the streaming giant’s most recent release shows it is continuing to invest in its download feature.
On June 28, Netflix launched a new feature that allows users to start watching downloaded videos before the download is completed (only on Android currently, with iOS to follow). This means viewers can now watch a video download with nearly the same immediacy of streaming, instead of waiting for a full video file to download before they can hit play. That’s especially advantageous for watching longer content like feature length films, which may take minutes to download depending on the user’s connectivity.
The feature also suggests that Netflix understands that people often watch downloads even when they have a connection. The ability to watch partially downloaded videos might not always be ideal for those entering an environment such as an airplane, because once connectivity is lost, a download won’t be able to complete. But if a viewer is, for example, at home and downloading to avoid re-buffering or to ensure their video is in high-quality, it makes sense that they could start watching a downloaded asset as it continues to download. There’s less risk in that scenario that the video download would be interrupted and unable to complete, because the device would maintain a connection.
It’s likely Netflix has similar data to what we’ve seen across our clients at Penthera. We’ve found that 70% of playback of downloaded videos happens when a user is still connected to a wifi or cellular network. Many viewers feel downloading is a better way to watch, since it prevents interruptions, delays, and quality problems. By taking advantage of this and allowing viewers to begin playback even as a video continues to download, Netflix is reducing the risk that a viewer might lose patience waiting for a download to finish and decide not to watch at all or try a different app. It’s an effective way to reduce churn and increase engagement.
Netflix’s continued investment in technology that improves the downloading experience—including Smart Downloads and Downloads for You—shows that it’s not enough for streaming providers to offer a barebones feature that enables offline viewing. Making streaming and downloading seamless makes all the difference in fostering viewer loyalty and edging out the massive competition across the OTT experience.
To learn more about how you can offer industry-leading download technology to your viewers, check out Penthera’s products that enable the fastest download in the market, enhanced streaming, and even downloads with ads.