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Netflix Downloads Won't Do Anything for Business

November 29, 2016 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated September 02, 2020 11:36 AM UTC

Despite being great for its users

[MUSIC PLAYING] ANDREW NUSCA: Welcome to Fortune Tech Debate where we debate the issues of the day in two minutes. Today, we're talking about Netflix finally allowing downloads of its streaming videos. All right. Let's put two minutes on the clock. Take it away, Erin. ERIN GRIFFITH: Finally-- ANDREW NUSCA: Finally. ERIN GRIFFITH: --is the key answer here. We have been begging-- Netflix users have been begging the company to allow us to download things so we can use them on the subway, or on a plane. Or for me personally, I'm a very slow internet connection. I would love to watch a full movie without having to wait for the spinning wheel of death. Netflix is finally giving users what they wanted after years of saying they would never do it. I think this is a good move. ANDREW NUSCA: Look, as a consumer, I love it. I mean, why wouldn't I want video in more places in these places where we don't have connectivity. And obviously, like even the internet on a plane is terrible, even when you have the connection. So I'm all for that. But I'm not convinced that this is a great move for Netflix, the business. I mean, it just seems like a stopgap measure. Right. I mean, Netflix is plowing tons of money in original content. They're watching their existing content providers that they-- not them, but the other companies-- start to pull their stuff away from Netflix. They're in a moment where their stock hasn't really gone anywhere all year. [INTERPOSING VOICES] ERIN GRIFFITH: Wait, so how is that going to affect their stock though? ANDREW NUSCA: The downloads? ERIN GRIFFITH: Yeah. ANDREW NUSCA: Well, it's not. That's my point. Netflix needs something more and they're in a moment of transition. That-- they were once a high flying stock, and they're going nowhere. Downloads are nice but that's not going to help change the big picture. ERIN GRIFFITH: No, I think what will help change is what you're talking about is investing all of this money into big, awesome sort of cultural moments in their original content. And they're managing to do that over and over and over, and it's turning Netflix into a channel, more so than just a place like a library for old movies and TV shows. ANDREW NUSCA: But it's not going to move the needle. My point here is it's a nice little thing, but it's just not changing the game. And that's important. It has to matter. ERIN GRIFFITH: This is going to increase their subscribers. Think about people in rural areas that don't have good internet. They're never going to download Netflix because they can't-- I mean-- [INTERPOSING VOICES] ANDREW NUSCA: There's also complexity here, too. I mean, look, there are legal issues here. Hopefully, they have their content rights sorted so that they can allow for downloads. But if they don't, they might have to go back and renew some of that content. ERIN GRIFFITH: That's why the original content is great. They're going to give us more opportunities to watch that original content. ANDREW NUSCA: But-- [INTERPOSING VOICES] ANDREW NUSCA: --all that original content is extremely capital intensive. And I just don't think this is going to change things. [INTERPOSING VOICES] [BUZZ] ANDREW NUSCA: Looks like we're out of time. All right. Come back to for more Tech Debate. [THEME MUSIC]