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  • Writer's pictureCandace Bryan

Netflix’s Newest Feature Release Has A Crucial Lesson for OTTs

Netflix continues to push the envelope of the streaming video industry. Earlier this week, the company announced a groundbreaking new feature for users called Downloads for You, which can automatically download personalized content from their app to users’ devices. According to TechCrunch, if users opt in to the new feature, “the Netflix app will download recommended TV shows and movies to your mobile device based on your tastes, as determined by your Netflix watch history.”

The result is that there will be downloaded videos on users’ mobile device without them having to choose and initiate it themselves—and that there will always be content they can watch, even when they find themselves somewhere with a poor or nonexistent connection. It will also help users discover new shows they might enjoy. As 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.”

This comes on the heels of their other forward-thinking download feature, Smart Downloads, released in 2019, which automatically downloads the next episodes when users are watching series on the app. It’s interesting and probably worth noting that, on Netflix’s product roadmap, they continue to prioritize developing and innovating around their download offering.

The team at Netflix have a deep understanding of the user experience, and they know that viewers around the world continue to battle issues like startup delays, low quality, and re-buffering when they try to stream content. Whether you’re competing with your family over the home wifi or out somewhere with a poor signal, weak connections are everywhere and make it difficult to watch videos.

Some OTT providers are aware of this but are banking on 5G to solve these issues for their viewers. By taking the time to make their download feature more sophisticated, Netflix seems to understand that 5G infrastructure is not a cure-all for streaming issues. Online video consumption will continue to skyrocket in the coming years, meaning experiential issues will still plague viewers. 5G will only help a little, and streaming providers can’t afford to wait for any improvements 5G will provide. The industry is more competitive than ever and prioritizing features that can help users avoid frustration is a key way to staying ahead of the competition.

Plus, if you think it’s odd that Netflix has announced new download technology at a time when travel is severely restricted around the globe, then you don’t understand one of the biggest myths around streaming video. Download is not merely a feature for travelers: more and more users are downloading content to watch even at home, so they can watch in high-quality without interruption. In fact, Penthera data has shown that 80% of playback of downloaded videos actually occurs when users have a connection—not when they’re offline or in airplane-mode.

Perhaps Netflix has similar data. At the very least, the timing of their feature release shows that they are prioritizing ensuring that content can truly be watched anywhere. To learn more about how you can stay in the game and offer feature parity with Netflix's sophisticated download features to your viewers (including auto-download), check out Penthera’s product pages.


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