Dear Lifehacker, I am a Netflix subscriber and avid user. However, when I am without an internet connection (such as on a plane) I find I have nothing to watch. Is there a way that I can save Netflix shows and movies locally to my device for offline viewing? If not, since I am a paying Netflix subscriber, would it be wrong for me to torrent Netflix Original content? Thanks, Netflix Addict
The short answer to your first question is no. The Netflix business model is entirely based on streaming video and the company has zero interest in providing a download service.
For starters, allowing customers to permanently own files would play havoc with the licencing deals it already has in place. Plus, it would essentially eliminate repeat business on individual titles and restrict the data it can collect from customer viewing habits.
One potential solution would be to offer limited offline access within the Netflix interface — an option to "save" 10GB of movies and TV shows, for example. We recently asked a Netflix representative about this and while they agreed that the idea made sense, it's not something that is currently in the pipeline. For the foreseeable future, you're stuck with an online-only service, it seems.
Now onto the second part of your question. Is it wrong to torrent Netflix Original content or access it offline via a third-party workaround? Of course it is! Just because you're a paying customer doesn't give you the right to flagrantly disregard copyright law. It's important to remember that you are paying Netflix a fee to view its content, not to own it outright. It's a significant distinction.
Refusing to watch a show directly from Netflix can also affect its future; particularly with niche titles. Let's say that 50 per cent of Netflix customers chose to illegally download Chef's Table instead of watching it from the source — none of those views would count towards Netflix's total and could result in the show being cancelled.
Have a question you want to put to Ask Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.