No Internet Connection? No Problem. Netflix Adds Offline Viewing

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In the race for video streaming domination, Netflix surges forward. On Wednesday, Netflix announced and implemented in its latest update, the ability to download TV and movie titles on mobile devices.

At no extra cost to the user, Netflix subscribers will now be able to save select content to their iOS or Android devices, then watch on the go without the need for an Internet connection. Say goodbye to lackluster in-flight movies, Netflix is now airplane-mode compatible.

The move places Netflix in direct competition with iTunes and other services that offer video rentals and purchases for download.

Netflix is not the first streaming service to offer offline viewing. Last year, Amazon Prime Video extended its download service to iPhones, iPads, and Android devices after offering it exclusively for the Amazon Fire Tablet.

The rise of Netflix, and its over 86 million subscribers, has been a force to compete with. Content providers are scrambling to stay relevant in its wake. In 2015, HBO and Showtime introduced standalone streaming services, offering cord-cutters access to premium content without a cable package.

However, what makes Netflix so attractive is the amount of content for the dollar spent. HBO Now begins at $14.99 a month. Showtime can be an add-on to a Hulu or Amazon subscription or at a standalone monthly price of $10.99. While Netflix's basic monthly package begins at $7.99, and the premium version is $11.99.

Cable providers are trying to evolve as well. Also Wednesday, AT&T launched DirecTV Now, an Internet streaming service available on phones, tablets, computers, and streaming devices. In February 2015, Dish introduced Sling TV, which streams cable channels through the Internet.

The convenience of streaming TV and movies has led many people to cut the cord. Hulu subscribers are willing to pay for the most up-to-date episodes and movies, and sit through 90-second adds every few minutes. While there is a premium Hulu service which does not include commercial breaks, the "No Commercial Plan" does not apply to popular shows such as Scandal, Grey's Anatomy, and How to Get Away With Murder.

As Netflix paves the way for online streaming, you have to wonder what former Blockbuster executives are thinking now. It was 16 years ago that Blockbuster passed on purchasing the then DVD mailing service for only $50 million. Netflix is worth $50 billion. Blockbuster has just a handful of stores left.

Laura Roman is the social media intern at NPR.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.