Netflix Follows BBC iPlayer, Axes Offline Viewing On PCs

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In a move that echoes the recent changes made by the BBC to its iPlayer service, Netflix has announced that it will be launching a new version of its Windows app – which will no longer support downloading content for offline viewing.

The updated app will include a few improvements, such as support for live events and ad-supported plans. But the most significant change is the removal of the download feature, which has been a staple of the Netflix Windows app for years.

As expected, the decision to remove the ability to download content on those devices, which was first reported on Windows Latest, has left many Netflix users disappointed.

The feature has been particularly useful for those who like watching shows and movies while travelling, especially on planes or even on the tube, where internet connectivity is limited or non-existent.

Netflix on a laptop
Photo: Deposit Photos / Kamachi

The removal of this feature means that users will no longer be able to watch Netflix offline on their Windows laptops (or desktops for that matter – though you’re not likely to carry a desktop with you on the tube).

BBC iPlayer Was There First

As we were first to report in February 2024, the BBC recently made a similar change to its iPlayer service by phasing out the iPlayer Downloads app for PC and Mac.

The app, which has been available since 2013, allowed users to download shows for offline viewing on their desktop or laptop computers.

BBC iPlayer downloads mockup

The decision to retire the computer app came as a surprise to many, especially those who relied on the feature to watch content while travelling. Many took to social media to complain.

The BBC’s decision to discontinue the iPlayer Downloads app was driven by the increasing popularity of mobile devices for offline viewing.

As more users turn to their smartphones and tablets to watch downloaded content, the BBC chose to focus its efforts on improving the mobile iPlayer app experience. The app was officially closed on April 8, 2024.

Now, Netflix is following in the BBC’s footsteps.

Goodbye, Netflix PC Downloads

Netflix’s justification for this change is unclear, but it appears to be driven by similar reasoning, as the company recommends that users who still want to download shows and watch offline should do so on “supported mobile devices.”

Netflix on phone and laptop
Photo: Deposit Photos / 22ImagesStudio

While the removal of the download feature is undoubtedly a downgrade, the new Netflix app for Windows, which will be released this summer, does bring some improvements.

For one, the new version will support live events, so users will be able to watch events such as the upcoming Paul vs Tyson boxing match (just don’t forget you’d need a TV Licence for that!)

Paul vs Tyson
Paul vs Tyson (Photo: Netflix)

Also, the new version will finally support Netflix’s ad-supported plans, which have been around for more than a year.

Netflix is also saying that the new version will bring with it increased streaming quality, although it remains to be seen how noticeable the improvements will be.

The transition to the new Netflix app will be seamless for users who have automatic app updates enabled on the Microsoft Store.

However, those who have disabled automatic updates will be prompted to update the app to continue using Netflix on their Windows devices.

As expected, with notifications about the upcoming change starting to appear on users’ devices, some have already taken to social media to complain.

It’ll be interesting to see whether other streaming apps follow this trend and also block downloads on computers.

Once the Netflix Windows app is updated, you will only be able to download – and watch offline – on the following devices:

  • Android phone or tablet
  • iPhone or iPad
  • Amazon Fire tablet
  • Google Chromebook (with Google Play Store installed)

It remains to be seen whether other streaming apps will follow up on this trend. For now – download ’em and watch ’em while you still can…

2 thoughts on “Netflix Follows BBC iPlayer, Axes Offline Viewing On PCs”

  1. Totally rubbish idea! I am currently away working for two weeks, staying in a hotel with rubbish WiFi. Does that mean I can’t watch anything g for two weeks? Will I get a ½ month refund?

    • You can still watch off-line on a tablet or phone, as the article makes clear. Of course, phones are not particularly satisfactory for watching films but tablets are fine.


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