Jun 14th, 2017

Here’s a little-known fact about Netflix’s fairly new download feature: it has its limits. We’ve known for some time now about these limits, but some folks are only just now discovering it.

As Netflix has outlined in their help documents, often times their licensing agreements come with distribution limits. We mostly see these in the form of expiration dates on content, after which Netflix removes said items from their rotation.

But downloads have their limits, too. There are a couple of snags when it comes to downloading titles for offline viewing:

  1. The first snag comes in the form of “session expirations” where you won’t be able to view downloaded content unless you login again. Once a session expires, Netflix forces you to delete the title from your local cache and asks you to download it again. That introduces the second issue.
  2. There may be a hard limit on how much you can download any given video. That hard limit is not disclosed to the user, and Netflix says some titles may not even have this limit. It all depends on the licensing agreement they made with the content owners.

The fact that such limits exist isn’t the surprising or annoying part here. The annoying part is that we don’t know these limits until we actually hit that threshold, so you’ll want to be a bit frugal when it comes to downloading content.

Our suggestion is to only download something you expect to watch within a few days, so if you’re anticipating some internet downtime on the plane then queue the downloads up a couple of days before your flight instead of, say, a month in advance. And if you need to download the same thing multiple times, try to space your downloads apart so as to not burn through your limit before you really need it.

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