Netflix Won’t Offer Downloadable Content Anytime Soon Because Users Just Couldn’t Handle It

Any Netflix users who got their hopes up that maybe the streaming service would follow in Amazon’s footsteps and offer downloadable content that can be watched offline on a mobile device, well, your dreams probably won’t be coming true anytime soon: Neil Hunt, Netflix’s Chief Product Officer says it’s unlikely the company will go the route of offline viewing because adding another choice will just make the whole thing too complicated for users.

Hunt told Gizmodo UK at a recent trade show in Berlin that he doesn’t think offline viewing is a very “compelling proposition,” and that it remains to be seen whether that’s something a lot of people will actually use. Why? Because it’s a hassle to have yet another choice.

“Undoubtedly it adds considerable complexity to your life with Amazon Prime – you have to remember that you want to download this thing,” Hunt said. “It’s not going to be instant, you have to have the right storage on your device, you have to manage it, and I’m just not sure people are actually that compelled to do that, and that it’s worth providing that level of complexity.”

He says offering that extra option would render some people unable to make decisions about what to do next, so they won’t do anything, calling it the “Paradox of Choice.”

“You put strawberry, apricot and blackberry jam in the supermarket aisle and you can persuade half the people coming down the aisle to taste the jam and maybe buy one,” he explains. “But if you decide to add lemon, orange, blueberry and grapefruit, by adding the choices you don’t increase the number of people choosing one, but in fact you go the other way. Fewer people choose anything at all.”

Hunt says that in addition to this paralysis, Netflix users are very sensitive to change — even the slightest tweak and people are turned off. For example, when Netflix experimented with allowing half stars in its five-star rating system, the company saw 11% less ratings come in than when only full stars were allowed.

Bu even if you’re struck motionless by one more Netflix feature, preventing you from efficiently binging on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Netflix isn’t saying never to offline downloads — it just won’t be happening soon.

“I don’t think it’d be particularly complicated to implement, but doing it right would take time,” says Hunt, adding that Amazon’s new offer isn’t all that great anyway, since some titles aren’t available for download, which could be frustrating to users.

“I think Amazon is playing a good game of PR, but I’m not sure it’s a good consumer experience. We’ll see,” Hunt said.

The Real Reason Netflix Won’t Offer Offline Downloads [Gizmodo]

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