Netflix Inc has no plans to allow users of its new ad-supported tier to download shows and movies to their devices for offline viewing, according to code found within the company’s iPhone app, removing a feature that customers appreciate it on its regular service.
The move suggests Netflix is doing what it can to distinguish the upcoming service from its current offerings. The streaming giant, which has shunned advertising for years, plans to roll out the ad-supported tier by early next year. But hints about the new service are already reflected in the code hidden in its iPhone app.
“Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads,” according to the text in the app that was discovered by developer Steve Moser and shared with Bloomberg News. The code also suggests that users will not be able to skip ads, a common move in the streaming world, and playback controls will not be available during ad breaks.
Netflix declined to comment. As the service launch is several months away, the company’s plans are likely not yet final and its approach may still change.
However, early clues suggest Netflix is strictly limiting the frills on the ad-based service. With its regular plans, users can download content for viewing in places without reliable internet access, such as airplanes. The lack of such an option could help Netflix sell users at its high-end levels after hooking them to the ad-supported version. The Los Gatos, California-based company has already said it won’t offer all of its content in the ad tier.
Netflix has lost customers and faces competition from Walt Disney Co., Amazon.com Inc. and Warner Bros. Discovery Inc’s HBO Max. Last quarter, it lost 1.3 million customers in the US and Canada. its largest region.
Rival services like Disney’s Hulu, Warner Bros. ‘ Comcast Corp.’s HBO Max and Peacock are already relying on ad-supported levels to fuel growth. The cheaper versions of services like HBO Max also disable the download option.
The Netflix app has additional hidden references to its ad expansion, including text on how to help Netflix personalize ads for specific users. “Now, let’s set up your ad experience. We just need a few details to make sure we get the most relevant ads on Netflix. It’ll be really fast, we promise!” you read a message.
The ad-supported tier will provide a cheaper alternative to customers frightened by the rising prices of the service. The premium tier of the service, which offers 4K resolution and up to four streams simultaneously, is $ 20 per month in the US.
Netflix previously said the ad-based service will be available in multiple regions and that Microsoft Corp. will serve as a sales and technology partner for the ad system.