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Code in Netflix app suggests ad-supported layer may hinder offline downloads

If you thought that ad-supported Netflix would just be the regular service with some commercial breaks, I’m sorry to say you were wrong. According to language in the code of the Netflix app, discovered by developer Steve Moser and shared with BloombergNetflix may limit offline downloads to Netflix’s ad-free levels.

Currently, Netflix has three tiers. For $9.99 per month, you get standard definition content and the ability to watch TV on one screen at a time. Pay $14.99 a month and you get HD and the ability to watch on two screens at once. If you want to watch everything in UHD (with 4K and HDR), you pay $19.99. You can also watch on four screens at once.

It’s not much of a surprise that Netflix would monitor offline downloads for people paying for the ad-free version of the service. Earlier this year, co-CEO Ted Sarandos said the ad-supported tier wouldn’t have the same content as the ad-free, and ad-supported tiers are meant to be a gateway tier that gives people a taste of a lower price. price. And there is the difficulty of running ads on offline content. It is not an impossible challenge, but a difficult one. Plus, Netflix is ​​already putting other things behind paywalls that could be standard. I pay $19.99 a month for Netflix so I can get the most out of my very nice 4K TV with support for multiple forms of HDR – not because I need to be able to watch four streams at once.

But historically, Netflix hasn’t treated offline downloads as a perk. In 2016, when Netflix finally started allowing offline downloads, Sarandos told CNBC it was to support emerging markets where wifi was spotty. Netflix was already too late with offline viewing at that time. Amazon Prime allowed you to download things you wanted to watch later for years. You would assume that the people who have not yet subscribed to Netflix would also mention reasons such as spotty internet in addition to the price.

In July, Microsoft announced it would become Netflix’s ad technology and sales partner — effectively providing the infrastructure to show ads at the new level. The new ad-supported tier for Netflix is ​​expected to launch in 2023. We’ve reached out to Netflix for comment and will update if we hear anything.

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