Here’s Why Netflix Won’t Let You Download Movies

2 minute read

Now that some Amazon Prime subscribers are able to download movies and TV shows for offline viewing, rival streaming company Netflix has been left to defend its reasoning for not offering a similar service.

Earlier this week, Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt told Gizmodo that, while offline downloads are a highly-requested service among Netflix users, the company doesn’t want to overload its subscribers with too many options when they’re deciding what (and how) to watch. Referring to the psychological notion of the “Paradox of Choice,” which suggests that too many choices cause anxiety for consumers, Hunt argues that Netflix subscribers could actually freeze up mid-content binge if they had to decide between watching something immediately or downloading it to watch offline later on a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Hunt told Gizmodo: “One of the things I’ve learned is that every time you offer a choice, you paralyze some people who can’t decide if that’s what they want to do or not. Now, that sounds really stupid and self-serving, but it is in fact true.”

He went on to add that previous Netflix tests of other frequently-requested features have taught the company that adding an additional step in the user’s decision-making process does, in fact, sometimes stop users from choosing anything at all. Hunt told Gizmodo that Amazon’s new service makes for “a good game of PR, but I’m not sure it’s a good consumer experience.”

One service that Netflix could soon commit to, though, might be making the streaming service more available to travelers. “That for me is a more interesting thing; can we make Netflix work on a plane, can we make it work on a train, in hotels?” Hunt told Gizmodo.

Netflix continues to suffer from a dropping stock price, which recently fell below $100 per share and has lost nearly 18% of its value since the start of last week, while its streaming rivals have announced various moves in attempts to steal some market share. In addition to Amazon’s new offline downloading service, Hulu announced a new commercial-free premium service along with a content agreement with cable network Epix to pick up a long list of streaming movies that recently left Netflix when the company ended its own agreement with Epix.

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