Late last year, Netflix enabled downloads for offline playback, which was great news for subscribers who take planes, ride the subway, or own a phone. The function came with some minor caveats, like expiration dates for downloads and limited support for microSD storage on Android devices. Now, another limitation with offline playback is causing grumbles: some content can only be downloaded a finite number of times a year.
As pointed out by Android Police, the notification appears without advanced warning, popping up only when you’re about to hit the download threshold. If you try to download after reaching the limit, you’ll receive an error.
Android Police doesn’t have an exact figure on what this limit is, placing an estimate at four to five downloads a year. It’s also not Netflix’s fault the limit exists, as it doesn’t own the vast majority of the content it offers, and so, it is beholden to rights holders.
What is incredibly annoying, though, is that there are multiple scenarios where these limits could kick in before you ever watch something offline. Some offline content expires in as little as 48 hours, for example, leaving a short viewing window that can be interrupted by things like, you know, life. And what about offline content deleted to free up storage that then can’t be re-downloaded?
It’s worth noting that Netflix does state on a help page regarding downloads: “Due to studio limits, you may not be able to renew all titles. If you are unable to renew a title but would still like to watch it, you’ll need to connect to the internet to stream.” So, this info isn’t new and Netflix sort of puts it out there, but even the help page suggests you might find this out after your initial download(s), not before. PSA — if you didn’t know before, now you do. Wee.
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