No WiFi? Low on data? On a plane? Netflix offers downloads of some shows, movies

Netflix Inc. will now allow users to download shows and movies to their smartphones and tablets to watch when they’re offline, the company said Wednesday.

The Los Gatos, Calif., video streaming firm said the download function is available for both iOS and Android operating systems, for a mix of original and licensed content.

Netflix said many popular movies and series are already available for download, including its original shows “Orange is the New Black” and “The Crown.”

Users have long clamored for a download option that would allow them to watch Netflix content in areas with poor or costly connectivity — aboard an airplane in flight, for instance. But with increased competition from Amazon Prime Video, which unveiled a download button last year, Netflix may have decided that now was the time, said Paul Verna, senior analyst at EMarketer.

“Amazon is definitely encroaching on Netflix’s turf,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like something that requires a tremendous investment on their part to enable, so I guess at a certain point they decided, ‘Why not.’”

Besides garnering some amount of goodwill from customers, Netflix may also benefit from the data it can gather from users of the new feature.

“I’m sure they’ve analyzed the implications of what it means for one of their customers to download a show versus stream it,” Verna said. “Whatever those implications are, it must be valuable data to them.”

Shares of Netflix were up $1.51, or 1.2%, to $119.02 in Wednesday morning trading.

samantha.masunaga@latimes.com

For more business news, follow me @smasunaga

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