Ask LH: Will Netflix Or Stan Or Presto Or Quickflix Let Me Download Shows For Offline Viewing?

Ask LH: Will Netflix Or Stan Or Presto Or Quickflix Let Me Download Shows For Offline Viewing?

Hey Lifehacker, I’m currently running a Quickflix trial and I’m considering testing out Stan. But I’ve realised that one of my main reasons for downloading movies via torrents is because I can download during my ISP off-peak period, then watch them during the evening. Streaming movies during the evening eats all my ISP quota. Is there any way to get around that? I realise I can pre-buffer on a computer, but I want to watch on my lounge room TV. Thanks, Peak Practice

Dear PP,

Subscription streaming media services have many virtues, but the ability to download content and view it later from a local drive is not one of them. Quickflix has never offered the ability to download streamed content; nor does Presto; nor does Stan; and nor does Netflix.

The reason for that is both technical and legal. On the technical front, offering the ability to download requires complex rights protection to be put in place (and might well require a separate player rather than letting you watch in-browser). On the contractual front, in most cases the deals that each of these services have signed for content only grant them the right to stream the content — movies and TV shows can’t be offered in any other form.

That’s not to say browser extensions and other software won’t pop up that allow you to do that. However, they rarely work for long — as soon as one becomes popular, those services will usually try to implement a block.

In TV viewing terms, your best options are going to be either streaming from another device or hoping that an official smart TV app will appear. (Quickflix is already supported on many smart TVs, and we’d expect Netflix apps to be activated soon after the service launches in Australia.)

As for off-peak? There’s no obvious way you can take advantage of that while viewing streaming media. Annoying, but that’s the way the all-you-can-view cookie crumbles.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • I was offered an early pass to the Stan system and I was keen to give it a go, I run everything through the Apple system (We have 2 Apple TV’s and a Mac mini as our Entertainment Server)
    I would love to give it a try, but they don’t have an App for the Apple TV, I’ve got to run it on an iPad and then Airplay switch it across to the AppleTV (fiddly system to watch a TV or Movie) and when I tried to log onto the Stan website it refused to work through my Chrome Browser. So Stan is out then.

    Lets see what Netflix is like, hopefully they will offer an Apple TV App, and aren’t so fussy about which browser they want to work with.

    But with all these different streaming services launching, isn’t this the very thing people don’t want? multiple subscriptions across multiple companies, different apps, multiple accounts, more bastardised and fractured shows split across numerous suppliers?
    I’m not going to subscribe to 2 or 3 different services to watch the shows I like.

    And the TV/Movie Industry wonders why people give up and switch to pirating. Idiots.

    • With all these streaming services launching, I thought that was the very thing people did want.

      They complain about Foxtel having a monopoly, so when multiple services are announced that prevents a monopoly people complain because the only want one service.

      And if there was only one streaming service, people don’t realise that in a few years they wouldn’t hesitate to raise the price up.


      • Actually you miss the point, each of these services are going to have exclusives so Show A is on Quackflix, Show B on Stan and Show C on Netflix, you want to see all 3 you have to buy 3 services, exclusives should be banned and they should be forced to compete on price and service quality (of course that would disadvantage Quickflix, so they would cry foul naturally). Blockbuster never had exclusives over Video Ezy so why should VOD SPs.

        And we don’t complain so much about foxtel having a monopoly per se, optus vision had a go at cable tv after all, if they didn’t have exclusives and charged a decent rate for VOD with no ads then people wouldn’t complain about them as much.

          • Heh im glad i didn’t call Netflx Nutflix then, im not sure i want to see that picture (well its a 33/33/33 which direction youd go 🙂

        • I get that, but this happens in the U.S. as well.

          Hulu has some shows, HBO Go as others, and Netflix has some others. It’s not going to be a massive differenc ein Australia if you want to watch TV.

          • Just because it happens in the US doesn’t mean it should happen here.

            We have an opportunity to prevent fragmentation which will only serve to drive up piracy when even more people are accustomed to getting what they want when they want then to be told no you have to pay for this other service to see that show, they will just download that and then likely everything else and cancel their VOD services entirely (in for a penny in for a pound as they say).

        • Just as a side note, Blockbuster and Video Ezy are owned by the same company in Australia, hence no exclusives…

          • Only since 2007, before that they were competitors, perhaps i should have said when they were relevant they didn’t have exclusives.

        • I actually I think he/she got the point pretty well.

          If all the services had exactly the same programs and were forced to compete on price and service quality then whoever has the most money will undercut the rest until we are left with a monopoly. As soon as all the competition is gone prices will be hiked up.

          It’s not so bad paying for multpiple services when it’s only $10 a month. You can always switch the services on and off depending on when your favourite programs are released.

      • I want a service that can show me all the shows, not some here, some over there and few others from this mob. This is the whole problem with the TV industry, they spend so much time fragmenting shows and channels that people get fed up with trying to search around to find what they want. I’m happy to pay for a service, but I don’t want have to setup multiple accounts with multiple companies just to watch TV shows. The opportunity for the TV industry is massive, make an all inclusive package with a competitive price available from your preferred provider, Apple, Android or whoever. I would suggest a large chunk of pirating will disappear overnight.

        • The U.S. has to deal with fragmented shows as well though.

          Hulu, HBO Go, and Netflix all share shows between them

    • there’s a Stan app for the iPad (and phone and android), I download that and then use airplay to get it on apple TV. Sure it’s an extra step but I hate using the apple TV remote to navigate and search anyway.

      • jextron, you should get the “Remote” app from app store. You can use your ipad as remote for Apple TV – makes search waaaayyy easier.

    • This is why the music streaming services such have been so much more successful. Generally there are no exclusives, one subscription covers the majority of content. Most also allow pre-caching for offline consumption, and have applications available on a broad range of hardware. The different services compete on price and features rather than content. While not having the full convenience of a DRM free download with no geographic blocking or price discrimination, they go a long way to satisfying consumer demand, and hence have had a positive influence in reducing copyright infringement. Until the TV & movie industry catch up (they’re generally owned by the same corporations as the music industry) the streaming services will fail to grab a significant market share.

  • I’m not an expert in this as haven’t tried it yet. But can’t you download movies and TV shows through Google Play to watch for a specified time or is that too also streamed for each access?

    • Google Play are charged per title where as the others are an all you can eat for a fixed monthly outlay.

  • Netflix has apps for Samsung, PS3 and 4, Xbox, Ipad, Android, Roku, Apple TV the only reason people don’t see them is that the device is set to an Australian location.

  • I feel like this may have dodged the question a little because it seems to assume the device won’t have internet access when viewing. In my case I want a service like Crunchyroll on my phone or Surface. My phone is always connected to the internet and my Surface can be via my phone, but due to the limitations of my phone’s connection I want to que things up and do all the downloading while connected to my home WiFi then watch the shows on the train. So does anywhere do pre-loading of the shows with an internet connection required only for authentication?

    • No i don’t think it dodged the question at all, the question didn’t mention that, but the answer is still no for the same reasons given (except as the question already stated pre-buffering while on wifi might work in that situation).

      • I don’t think it was intentionally dodged, but Angus seems to have missed the part about the goal being to shift the download to a more appropriate time. In both cases we will have an active internet connection for verification we just don’t have access to a connection we would use for streaming.
        I don’t have my hopes up. It’s not very hard on a technical level but DRM has such a bad reputation that simply offering the option of downloadable DRM protected files is bad for business (even though Streaming is just really strict DRM with a different label).

  • A pre-load/buffer feature would be quite handy for the Aussie market with our internet speeds. Like say there is the option to pre-load a movie/show for later viewing in HD. Technically it would ‘download’ it but this would be cached and then could be deleted as soon as it is watched.

  • for what it’s worth Fetch TV allows you to download films or TV shows to watch later, and will self delete when either the rental period or license period expires. and it does run via it’s proprietary box as the author mentioned.

    I can’t fully recommend the service though because it’s pretty damn limited on what’s available.

  • I was disappointed in the lack of content I actually care about, on Stan (I was part of the pre-launch), and on its requirement that I install Silverlight, which I believe Microsoft itself now considers obsolete. Similarly, I was disappointed with Hulu requiring me to subscribe to other services to get to the content I really wanted. Reality: It is easier to pirate. Download once, watch anywhere, no need for a proprietary viewer, no worries about caching to view later. It’s like each of these services is its own cable feature “pak” full of bundled content, to get the consumer to pay more overall than they’d pay if they paid movie/show by movie/show or series by series. To get that one series, you have to subscribe to service A and pay for lots of content you know you’ll never watch, but you like B’s content in general more so you have to subscribe to B, and that cooking show you love is only available on C, which also features hundreds of shows you don’t care about either. I don’t object to paying for content. I object to paying for non-portable content in a bundle that offers nothing more of value to me.

  • But serious when are Apple going to add some more apps to the Apple TV, apart from Cricket….

  • Interesting anecdote, there are no “standard” rights the film distribution companies have that would allow for a subscription service to let their customers download films for offline viewing. Subscription and Advertising Video On Demand (SVOD and AVOD) will have clauses that explicitly state that the video must be streamed. Transactional Video on Demand is a little more lenient, as each “on-demand” instance represents a single transaction.

    You can thank the likes of AHEDA for continuing to press these narrow views of what digital video services should be. If there was an industry body that actually tried to innovate, instead of getting dragged kicking and screaming into it, consumers everywhere would be much better off.

  • In response to the original question: If you have a TiVo linked to your Quickflix account you can dowload off peak and watch later. Each download stays on Tivo’s drive for 30 days. Just another reason why Tivo should have really taken hold in Australia (can’t work out why it never did!)

  • offers download to device for offline playback on TV and Movie product available to own. You can download to iOS, Android or PC/MAC devices to take on the go or cast to your big screen via Chromecast.

  • Can someone tell how download, something to watch late, where they is no internet Service

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