Netflix, the American VOD (Video On Demand) service that has made its mark as global internet TV option is “keeping an open mind” to the possibility of introducing offline access for its content.
This sentiment was expressed by Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix at the company’s earnings call for the first quarter of 2016. In a response to a question related to offline access Hastings said,
We should keep an open mind on this. We’ve been so focused on click and watch and the beauty and simplicity of streaming. But as we expand around the world where we see an uneven set of networks, it’s something we should keep an open mind about.
Netflix made a huge splash when it entered 130 new countries, including most of Africa, at the start of 2016. This move which has introduced the VOD service to 4.51 million new subscribers in territories outside its native United States market.
At the same time, this has meant globalising a service that is heavily reliant on stable and affordable internet by opening it up to markets where the constant availability of broadband is jeopardised by other conditions like cost and infrastructure investment.
An option for offline access would give viewers in these markets an option to download content when they access the internet with the alternative of watching it later.
For Africa, this approach has been identified as a key strategy in catering to potential subscribers that have an appetite for content but are limited by the realities of expensive broadband regimes.
Other VOD services in Sub-Saharan Africa like Naspers’ Showmax, ONTAPtv and the Netflix for Nollywood iROKO, have all added this functionality as a way of accommodating the growing market.
In fact, Jason Njoku, the founder and CEO of iROKO even explained the need for this option in Africa by citing streaming patterns observed for iROKo which reflected activity during working hours when viewers have access to fast and reliable internet at the office.
Should Netflix take this up, they will be taking huge steps to address the needs of subscribers in new markets that do not enjoy the same benefits as the developed world.