Netflix has finally launched its offline mode. But many of its biggest shows are missing. The feature has been perhaps the service’s most requested, by users who want to store films and TV shows away for flights, long journeys or just to get ready if they have slow internet connections. But there’s a relatively big problem with it. Lots of the biggest shows on Netflix aren’t actually available to download yet, apparently because the company hasn’t sorted out the rights for them. That includes, for example, the recently revived Gilmore Girls. And it also includes all the shows that Netflix makes in partnership with other brands like Marvel and Disney – meaning that Luke Cage, for instance, can’t be downloaded. Anything provided by the BBC can’t be downloaded, though users in the UK should be able to get much of that content for offline viewing through iPlayer. And lots of things like comedy specials that were made by other people than Netflix aren’t available. The company has said that it is working to get the rights for more shows and is aiming to make all of its programming available offline. The majority of Netflix’s original programming that it makes on its own is still able to download, so that shows like Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black and Master of None are all available to watch offline.
The offline mode is fairly simple to use. The app has two relevant sections – one showing things that are “Available for download” and another that shows everything you’ve downloaded already. There’s also a button on the page of every show that’s available for download that can be pressed to store it on a device. But there are other limitations, as well as those restricting what can actually be downloaded. The app’s offline downloads are optimised for a smaller display and so are relatively small. That means they’re quick to download but might not be as high quality as a similar downloaded video from iTunes or another service, even on the higher quality option that Netflix offers. And offline viewing can only work through the app, and not through the website. That means that it’s only possible to use it on a compatible tablet or phone, and not on a laptop or desktop computer.