Netflix has finally given binge watchers what they have been waiting for: offline viewing. On Wednesday, the streaming firm added this feature to its mobile app, allowing viewers to download TV shows and films in advance to watch them offline. However, there is a catch: not every movie or show is in the catalog, notes CNET.

Netflix
Photo by Matt Perreault

Why Netflix added this feature

“Netflix members worldwide can now download in addition to stream great series and films at no extra cost,” the streaming firm said in a blog post.

Despite regular demand for such a feature from subscribers, Netflix has long resisted it, saying that mobile networks would eventually come up with a technology that will keep users from getting disconnected. But according to CNET, two things forced the streaming giant to come up with the offline viewing option. First, rivals like Amazon Prime have come up with offline viewing. Second, Netflix’s global expansion into countries like India, where mobile networks are not so strong, makes such a feature much desirable.

To download shows or movies, subscribers must update their Netflix app and then look for an arrow symbol near the title. Also subscribers can select programs available for download from the new “Available for Download” menu.

To access the shows and movies that you have already downloaded, go to the “My Downloads” option in the app. Here, subscribers will be able to choose individual TV episodes and also delete the titles which are no longer wanted. The new feature is available on both iOS and Android.

Not all titles available for download

Many of Netflix’s own series and films will be available for download, such as House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, The Crown and Stranger Things. However, some licensed shows and movies won’t be available for download, like the BBC’s Sherlock series and Disney’s animated hit Zootopia. Even some of Netflix’s originals like the film The Little Prince won’t be available for download. However, Netflix says it will make more titles available for download in the future.

This new feature is surely a good addition, but some are surprised by it.

Tom Harrington from the consultancy Enders Analysis said, “It’s surprising because just weeks ago they said it wasn’t going to happen. You can understand why they wouldn’t want to do it because it opens up a whole pot of rights issues. Offering a download service will cost Netflix more.”

However, Netflix didn’t want to be left behind “or compared unfavourably to rivals” as others are already offering such option like Amazon and Sky, the expert added.