Netflix's product chief: Offline viewing offers consumers too much choice

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt thinks Amazon Prime Video's seemingly innovative decision to offer customers a download option will do more harm to the rival subscription streaming service than good. 

 netflix Neil Hunt


"I still don't think it's a very compelling proposition," Hunt told Gizmodo UK. "I think it's something that lots of people ask for. We'll see if it's something lots of people will use."

The pay-TV industry has dabbled in downloads for TV Everywhere for several years, looking to serve a segment of the mobile market that's restricted by the limitations of broadband. Subway commuters, for example, could download video files of morning news shows for their rides, while parents could load up an iPad full of kids programming for long car rides.

Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) Xfinity to Go app has allowed downloads for a limited number of programs for several years. And last week, Amazon Prime Video (NASDAQ: AMZN) became the first major SVOD operator to announce the ability to download some content for offline viewing. 

Netflix, however, has been a staunch opponent of offline viewing. And Hunt's comments illustrate why. He believes the option delivers consumers too much choice. 

"It's not going to be instant, you have to have the right storage on your device, you have to manage it, and I'm just not sure people are actually that compelled to do that, and that it's worth providing that level of complexity," Hunt said. 

"One of the things I've learned is that every time you offer a choice, you paralyze some people who can't decide if that's what they want to do or not," Hunt added. "Now, that sounds really stupid and self-serving, but it is in fact true. It's the 'Paradox of Choice', the jam experiment -- you put strawberry, apricot and blackberry jam in the supermarket aisle and you can persuade half the people coming down the aisle to taste the jam and maybe buy one. But if you decide to add lemon, orange, blueberry and grapefruit, 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."

For more:
- read this Gizmodo story

Related articles:
Amazon Prime enables video downloads for Android and Apple mobile devices, beats TVE to punch
Penthera licenses mobile download apps to Charter, TWC, renews Comcast deal
Downloads can save TV Everywhere, Penthera exec says