This might be the year Netflix finally adds offline playback

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Being able to download content to your device so that you can stream it offline is an essential feature for music-streaming services, but not so much for video-streaming services. Being able to download content to your smartphone while you’re on Wi-Fi allows you to access that content while you’re out and about without having to worry data limits, dead zones, or slow Internet. That’s why users have been asking Netflix to implement the feature for years, and the company may finally be doing just that, according to a report from Light Reading on Friday.

It’s (almost, maybe) here. Finally, Netflix could have offline video—the service we’ve all been waiting for—by the end of the year. Netflix is working on a “download-and-go” video feature like the ones already offered by Amazon and Comcast, according to industry sources who spoke with communications trade company LightReading. The report cites both the COO of Penthera, a company that works on mobile video, and a Frost & Sullivan analyst corroborating the rumor, with the latter saying saying it’s something of an “open secret” in the streaming-video community. (An official Netflix spokesperson told LightReading that they “don’t have anything to add at this time.”) Netflix would be a bit late on making this move, which is an about-face from its earlier stance. Amazon Prime started offering offline video late last year, and though the service has been seen as the holy grail offering of streaming services, Netflix has been very against it. But in September, Netflix COO Neil Hunt said Netflix wasn’t too interested in offline video because users couldn’t handle the complexity of all the choices. He “just wasn’t sure” people are compelled to look through all the Netflix choices and download what they want—which seems like an extremely weak argument.

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