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Wednesday 22 March 2023 Dublin: 13°C
Netflix Promotional still from Tina Fey's 'The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'.
# paradox of choice
Netflix has an odd reason for not allowing offline playback
Its chief product officer said that including it would leave some users ‘paralysed’ by the choice.

Updated at 6.30pm

NEIL HUNT, NETFLIX’S chief product officer, has told Gizmodo that the service won’t offer offline playback of content because it will create a “paradox of choice” that will leave some users “paralysed” and unable to use Netflix.

Speaking at IFA in Berlin, Hunt said that “one of the things I’ve learned is that every time you offer a choice [i.e. offline playback], you paralyse some people who can’t decide if that’s what they want to do or not.”

Hunt took a dig at Amazon Prime stating that “[u]ndoubtedly it adds considerable complexity to your life with Amazon Prime – you have to remember that you want to download this thing. It’s not going to be instant…and [I'm not sure] that it’s worth providing that level of complexity.”

Amazon, which runs Prime Instant Video, recently announced that it would make some content available offline, while Netflix has previously stated that the company will “never” offer offline playback.

While the reason for not allowing offline playback may seem anecdotal at best, Hunt claims that Netflix has lots of data about why adding more complexity won’t work — even if users request it.

“We did an experiment with our five star rating system, for instance; everybody said ‘you’ve got to do half stars’… [When Netflix trialed it they] had 11% less ratings coming in,” Hunt said. “[It was] just insane! We’ve plenty of cases where we’ve seen that happen.”

Hunt argues that instead of users downloading content, the ability to stream content should be made more robust with better internet access in places such as hotels and planes. “I think Amazon is playing a good game of PR, but I’m not sure it’s a good consumer experience,” he said.

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