The change Netflix will never make

IMAGINE how good Netflix would be if you could download content for offline viewing.

Well, unfortunately, your imagination is as close to reality as this concept will ever come.

The king of streaming services has announced it will not consider offering offline downloads to give it a competitive edge in the market.

What makes this decision even more bizarre is the logic behind it.

Netflix’s chief product officer Neil Hunt said the inclusion of such a feature would be too complex for users of the streaming service to grasp.

“I still don’t think it’s a very compelling proposition,” he told Gizmodo UK.

“One of the things I’ve learned is that every time you offer a choice, you paralyse some people who can’t decide if that’s what they want to do or not.

“Now, that sounds really stupid and self-serving, but it is, in fact, true.

“By adding the choices, you don’t increase the number of people choosing one, but in fact you go the other way — fewer people choose anything at all.”

To give merit to his reasoning, Mr Hunt pointed out the company had previously seen customers turned off by the inclusion of user-requested features.

“Every time you add a control, you reduce the total number of users who use them,” he said.

The best example put forward by Mr Hunt was an experiment in which Netflix allowed users to give half-star ratings for content.

He said the change was highly requested, however when it was implemented there was no interest.

“We had 11 per cent less ratings coming in. Just insane. We’ve plenty of cases where we’ve seen that happen,” he said.

Mr Hunt said rather than allowing people to download content it was about making streaming more readily available.

“That doesn’t necessarily get you Netflix everywhere, all the time,” he said.

“But I think if we can make that work well, that’s a more interesting proposition than trying to change consumer behaviours.”


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