It’s been a brutal last half-year for Netflix. Once the king of all streamers, the service has fallen on hard times, as a mass exodus of subscribers and a long history of spending ridiculous amounts of money on super-pricey movies that almost never play theaters has put them in more dire straits. One solution to their money woes: attract more subscribers with a cheaper, ad-supported version. But it looks like it may lack one of the service’s most popular features.
In a report by Bloomberg, an interdependent developer stumbled upon code in Netflix’s iPhone app, which included the words, “Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads.” However, Netflix hasn’t confirmed that this is set in stone, with a rep calling it “speculation” and saying, “We are still in the early days of deciding how to launch a lower priced, ad-supported option and no decisions have been made.”
Netflix first started allowing downloads for offline viewing in 2016. It solved a problem that plagued commuters in particular: Someone sitting on a subway train, trying to stream Orange is the New Black on their phone, suddenly loses their internet connection in between stops. Now they can download episodes onto their gizmos for happy, uninterrupted viewing. But if they wind up with the ad-version, with commercials they can’t skip anyway, they’ll probably have to wait for the next stop.