Netflix ad-supported plan may not allow downloads for offline viewing

18 Aug 2022

Image: © natanaelginting/

A developer has found language in the Netflix iOS app code that suggests the company is planning to restrict downloads to its ad-free plans.

If you want to download TV episodes and movies on the Netflix app to watch offline when you’re on the road or on those long boring flights, the cheaper ad-supported tier of Netflix may not be for you.

According to language in the code of the Netflix iOS app, discovered by developer Steve Moser and first reported on by Bloomberg, the streaming service may not allow downloads and offline viewing for its upcoming ad-supported plan set to be launched next year.

The move would distinguish the new plan from the existing, ad-free Netflix tiers such as the basic plan for viewing on one device at a time, the HD standard plan for viewing on two devices at a time and the premium Ultra HD plan that includes 4K and HDR viewing.

Bloomberg also reported that Netflix does not plan to allow customers to skip ads or access playback controls while ads are playing.

Netflix’s decision to offer an ad-supported tier was first hinted at in April, after it reported a loss of around 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of the year. This marked the first time the streaming giant had lost subscribers in more than a decade.

Last month, COO Greg Peters confirmed that the company will be working with Microsoft as its technology and sales partner on the advertisements.

“It’s very early days and we have much to work through. But our long-term goal is clear. More choice for consumers and a premium, better-than-linear TV brand experience for advertisers. We’re excited to work with Microsoft as we bring this new service to life,” he said at the time.

Netflix recently reported a record loss of nearly 1m subscribers. The streaming giant had previously said that account sharing is making it “harder to grow membership in many markets”. It estimated that from 222m paying households, its service is being shared to roughly another 100m homes.

This is in contrast to Disney+, which is quickly catching up with Netflix in terms of subscribers. Disney is also planning to launch its own ad-supported service in the US this December.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic