Downloading offline content on Netflix: the best tips for successful viewing

Have you got a favourite series on Netflix that you love to watch before falling asleep but are worried about using all your data? Or perhaps you’ve got a long journey coming up and want to watch a movie on the streaming service without worrying about the signal cutting it off at a crucial point? Well, Netflix has anticipated this need for its customers by allowing them to download content on their smartphones and tablets, in order to watch offline at a later date. 

While the technology behind this service has been around since 2016, with more users than ever before signing up to Netflix during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is always useful to understand how to make the most of your streaming – especially as prices increase.

What device you’ll need

Downloading shows on Netflix is only available on the following smartphones and tablets. Basically, it works through the app, meaning your desktop or TV won’t support the technology. Below is a list of devices you can use, according to the Netflix website:

  • iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 9.0 or later
  • Android phone or tablet running Android 4.4.2 or later
  • Amazon Fire tablet running Fire OS 4.0 or later
  • Windows 10 tablet or computer running Version 1607 or later
  • Select Chromebook and Chromebox models

Downloading Content

Many of your favourite TV series and movies will be available to download onto your device. To prevent using GB from your mobile data plan, it is best to download the content when you have a strong Wi-Fi connection. While you can still download movies and series using your mobile data, it will eat into your data pretty quickly – something to remember if you don’t get much mobile internet with your current provider.

To find a movie or TV series available for download, open up the Netflix app and click on the “Downloads” button in the bottom right of the screen (if you’re using a Windows 10 device select “Menu”). This will take you to a page where you can find content you’ve already downloaded, as well as directing you to another page labelled “Find more to download”. 

You can have up to 100 downloads at a time per device, on as many devices included in your membership plan. If you see an error message saying “You have downloads on too many devices” it means you’ve downloaded shows and movies on as many devices as your current plan allows for. To resolve this, either ask to delete some content from another member’s device or  upgrade your Netflix plan.

Iit should also be noted that the downloaded movie or TV series will only be available to watch on the device that was used to download them. In this sense you can’t share downloads between family members, even if you’re on the same plan. 

Smart Downloads 

If you are connected to Wi-Fi you can switch on a mode called “Smart Downloads” (or “Download next episode” on Android devices). This will enable the next episode of a TV series to automatically start downloading once the one ahead has ended and delete the one you’ve just watched. You can find this toggle in the “Downloads” or “My Downloads” section on your app.

Since June 2021, Netflix has also enabled its users to watch a movie or TV series that has only been partially downloaded, which is great if you’re just about to take off for your flight but won’t have a chance to finish downloading a whole episode. 

Expiring Downloads

After you’ve downloaded a title, you’re given a time limit to watch it before it expires. This timeframe can vary from seven days to 48 hours depending on the licensing agreement Netflix has with the production company. Netflix will tell you how many days/hours you have left for an episode or movie on the “Downloads” page. You can watch your show or film an unlimited amount of times before this period ends.

If a title has expired you need to redownload it again. Some titles can only be renewed a certain number of times before you’re not able to download them again but they can still be watched via an internet connection and streamed. Again, Netflix will tell you if a title can only be downloaded one more time. 

Do you download content regularly on Netflix? Let us know in the comments section. And, if you have any questions or other technology queries, please tweet us at @techtroublesho1.

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