Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Is Netflix About to Copy Amazon?

By Rick Munarriz - Jun 25, 2016 at 9:40AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The leading premium streaming video platform may soon start letting users have offline access to some of its growing catalog.

Image source: Netflix. 

You may soon be able to Netflix (NFLX -1.52%) even if your Internet connection chills. Dan Taitz -- COO at mobile video software provider Penthera -- is telling LightReading that Netflix is getting ready to let subscribers download at least some of its content to watch at a later time. Taitz is hearing about this from his sources within the industry, which makes sense since Netflix would have to negotiate these rights with its content producers that haven't previously agreed to that form of digital distribution. 

This may not be a game changer for Netflix, but it would put its offering on the same level as (AMZN -1.13%). The leading online retailer introduced offline viewing last fall on Android and iOS mobile devices for select content. It wasn't afraid to call out Netflix in the process. 

"Amazon Video is the only online subscription streaming video service that enables downloads of titles, meaning unlike other subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Prime members can enjoy movies and TV shows as part of their membership even when they don't have an Internet connection available," Amazon's press release read at the time.

Following the bleeder

Signs seem to suggest that Netflix will be walking in Amazon's footsteps with temporary digital downloads, but it didn't seem as if this was an opportunity that Netflix would pursue at first. It called Amazon out last year. Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt, in an interview with Gizmodo UK, argued that Amazon would suffer as a result of making its platform more complex. He pegged this as the "paradox of choice" where giving consumers too many options takes away from the overall experience.

Netflix has made simplicity an art. Its catalog continues to expand, but the interface has always been intuitive and simple. It was a pioneer in getting its streams on video-game consoles and placing remote-control buttons in internet-enabled DVD and Blu-ray players.

Amazon wants to be everything for all people. It has the streams -- like Netflix -- but it also offers piecemeal premium rentals and outright downloads. It offers DVDs for sale. It will even buy them back when you're done. Netflix is so simplicity driven that it operates its original yet now fading DVD business through a separate hub.

We'll see if this is the last time Netflix takes a page out of Amazon's playbook. There's so much that's possible. Can you imagine the explosive upside if Netflix -- already the streaming platform of choice for 81.5 million accounts worldwide -- would start letting its subscribers pay up for newer digital releases that aren't in its online smorgasbord? That would seem to defy the "paradox of choice" mantra, but isn't offline access a step in that direction anyway?

If giving its users access to content when they're not online is the priority at Netflix now, it's just a matter of time before it gives them a way to enjoy the videos that they can't enjoy at all on Netflix in its present form.

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Netflix, Inc. Stock Quote
Netflix, Inc.
$229.94 (-1.52%) $-3.55, Inc. Stock Quote, Inc.
$137.83 (-1.13%) $-1.58

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 08/09/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.