Posted on January 4, 2017
Reduce your mobile data usage with Netflix’s new download feature
Got Netflix? Now you can watch many of its award-winning shows and movies as you travel by train, plane or automobile. This feature is available to all Netflix subscribers, and can help conserve cellular data usage.
Netflix now has nearly 50 million subscribers in the United States alone and has kept pace with technology incredibly well. Once known as the DVD-by-mail subscription service, it has evolved to be the cord-cutting company that pioneers original content (like “House of Cards”). But there’s a feature Netflix lagged on until recently – the ability to download content to your device to view offline (a la Spotify or Google Maps). Better late than never though, right?
Progressive-leaning people will find many of the shows available for download to be engaging and informative. Like Netflix original “Orange is the New Black,” a fictional drama that humanizes prisoners and draws awareness to our broken criminal justice system. Or the documentary “Requiem for the American Dream,” which features persuasive interviews with Noam Chomsky that examine class mobility.
Why you want to watch Netflix offline
Videos streamed over cellular data will devour your monthly mobile data plan. According to Netflix, “watching movies or TV shows on Netflix uses about 1 GB of data per hour for each stream of standard definition video, and up to 3 GB per hour for each stream of HD video.” Savvy consumers stream over Wi-Fi, conserving data and enjoying a higher-quality viewing experience. When Wi-Fi is unavailable, you may be tempted to stream Netflix over 4G/LTE, but you now have a better option, and it only requires a little advanced planning.
How to watch Netflix offline in three steps
1. Get or update the Netflix app from the App Store for iPhone or Google Play Store for Android. Here’s how to check for an update if you already have the app.
- Open the App Store app
- Tap updates in the bottom-right corner of the screen
- If you don’t already have the latest version, the Netflix update will be available
- Open the Google Play Store app
- Tap the Menu icon in the upper-left corner of the screen, then select My Apps
- If your Netflix app is out-of-date, it’ll appear in the list of available updates
2. Search for the video you want to view offline. If it’s available, a download icon will appear in the description page for movies or next to an episode title for TV series.
Not all Netflix content is available for download just yet, but there’s plenty of good stuff to keep you entertained while traveling this winter, from “Pulp Fiction” to “Stranger Things.” See a list of videos available for offline playback from TechnoBuffalo’s site (published Nov. 30, 2016).
3. Download your episode or movie in standard-or high-definition. According to Netflix, compared to HD, standard-definition is “slightly lower video quality” but downloads faster and takes up less storage space. Whichever you choose, be sure to download while connected to Wi-Fi to avoid consuming a lot of cellular data.
Just remember to free up storage space by deleting your downloaded content after viewing. Within the Netflix app, go to the menu and select My Downloads to remove videos stored locally to your device.