Tuesday, 11 April 2017 11:47

How offline viewing for Netflix and Stan can save you hundreds


Drew Barrymore, left, and Liv Hewson at the premiere of Santa Clarita Diet, a Netflix original. Photo: Richard Shotwell

Australians love a good Netflix binge, especially from the comfort of their own couch. In fact with close to 6 million subscribers, the entertainment service's uptake has been nothing short of phenomenal. Many avid couch potatoes also tune into Stan, the homegrown competitor to Netflix which has its own library of unique titles from home and abroad to enjoy.

When you're watching streaming movies or TV from home on your broadband connection, many of which now run to unlimited data, binging on Netflix or Stan isn't a concern. Monthly subscriptions are cheap and your data is unlimited anyway, so all you need to concern yourself with is the provision of popcorn.


However, there are times when those binges spill out of homes and on to our mobiles or tablets. All it takes is a cliffhanger ending plus the drudgery of a peak-hour trawl on public transport to tip us over the edge.

What you may not realise is watching just a handful of episodes on-the-go can quickly become expensive for your mobile bill. One episode of House of Cards streaming on the standard definition setting will chew through around 1GB of data.

Even if you're on a mobile plan with a high data quota, all it takes is getting carried away by a compelling plot (or a dull train trip) and you could be in trouble.

Watch four or five episodes in one month, along with checking emails, Facebook activity and browsing, and you're looking down the barrel of excess data fees. These are usually $10 per extra gigabyte on top of your base plan. In Netflix terms, that's $10 extra for many TV episodes if you're already over quota.

Australians wasted $86 million on excess data charges last year and watching videos is the most data-hungry activity you can engage in.

So how can you keep catching up on your favourite series without blowing out your phone bill? All it takes is a little bit of forward planning, by using the inbuilt offline viewing capabilities of Netflix and Stan.

A finder.com.au survey suggests one in six Aussies don't know what offline viewing is and most aren't interested in using it.

Yet it can save you a substantial amount of money and give you access to your favourite shows in places where there's no reception, such as on a plane.

A substantial quantity of the Netflix and Stan streaming libraries are available to download and watch later without an Internet connection.

For both if you're watching on a smartphone or tablet there's a little icon to "download now and watch offline later". This means you can download shows using your home Wi-Fi, and catch the episode later without an internet connection and, critically, without chewing up your mobile data. You won't see the icons if you're watching on a TV or laptop, however, as offline playback is purely there for mobile devices running iOS or Android.

Offline storage is based on the storage capabilities of your device, and you are limited to just a few devices you can download content to.

Still, if you're a parent who plays cartoons from YouTube for your kids, offline playback gives you a free and easy way to keep them entertained, whether it's for five minutes of peace or a lengthy car trip. It's equally great for travelling – either because you're on a budget airline with no entertainment or because you're not a fan of the inflight choices on offer. Even if you just use it for your daily commute, it allows you to access streaming services without being reliant on the quality of the mobile signal, all while saving yourself potentially hundreds of dollars in excess usage fees.


Alex Kidman is tech & telco editor of finder.com.au.

Source : smh.com.au

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