Streaming

Netflix has a limit on downloading shows -- here's why

One of the best things about the Netflix mobile app is that it lets you download movies and TV shows so you can watch them later, even if there’s no internet connection available. However, you should think twice before downloading all your favorite shows on your devices. Not only do they expire after a period of time, but some of them have a download limit.

This strange “feature” has been recently discovered Android Police reports, as some users were greeted with prompts like the one below that say certain content can only be downloaded a specific number of times.

So if you downloaded a show on your smartphone or tablet, but haven’t seen it before it expired, you can download it again. Do that enough times, and you may receive the same warning.

That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to stream the show as you’d normally do on Netflix. It’s just that you won’t be able to download a copy of it on your devices once the limit is reached. Thankfully, there’s plenty of content on Netflix, which means you’ll likely find other shows to download if you ever hit those limits.

It’s unclear why Netflix added a limit to the number of times content can be downloaded, and the rule seems kind of silly. It’s likely something that came from content creators to prevent some sort of abuse. Rather than buying a digital copy of one of your favorite movies you could download it in perpetuity from Netflix, or for as long as Netflix has a license to offer it.

UPDATE: Netflix reached out to clarify the matter, explaining that the download limit isn’t new, and it was never hidden from users. On its help page, Netflix does say that some downloaded titles “may only be renewed a certain number of times” after they expire. The number isn’t set, as it varies depending on Netflix’s deal with each content owner. This is also the case with the number of days or hours a download will stay active in a user’s offline downloads folder.

But it’s likely that not all Netflix users who download content for offline viewing also check out that particular help page, which is obviously why users have been surprised to discover the limitation.