Can you watch downloaded Netflix movies in restricted countries?

Netflix it’s a great travel balm – just sit back and binge watch movie theater and TV broadcasts as you fly 21 hours and then board an 8 hour train. To get the most out of Netflix while traveling, don’t rely on a reliable internet connection — download your shows and movies ahead of time.

Netflix introduced downloads in November 2016, and since then the service has beefed up its download capabilities. Now you can tweak your Netflix settings to get automatic downloads and deletions once you’ve finished watching a movie or episode, as well as an endless supply of new downloads to make sure you always have something to watch offline.

Learn how to adjust your download settings so Netflix automatically manages it for you with Smart Downloads features and how to manage downloads for countries with restricted licenses. For more, learn about Netflix’s hidden menu or see CNET’s reviews of all streaming services

How do I download Netflix shows?

If you’re familiar with using Netflix on your mobile device, you’ve probably noticed the dark Download button just below Play. Clicking this button starts the download of a local version of the movie or TV show you want.

You can download Netflix movies and TV shows to iPhone, iPad, Android, and Amazon Fire devices, as well as Windows 10 or 11 PCs and some Chromebooks and Chromeboxes. Netflix downloads are set to use Wi-Fi only by default, although you can change this in your app settings.

There’s still no Mac app for Netflix, so unfortunately, that means no downloads for Mac laptops (unless they’re running Windows very).

A screenshot of the download options for TV shows in the Netflix Android app

On Android, Netflix lets you download entire seasons of TV shows.

Netflix/Photo by Peter Butler/CNET

TV shows can be downloaded individually by clicking the download icon next to each episode. On Android devices, you can download an entire season of a show by tapping on the separate Download season button next to the My List, Rate, and Share links near the top of a movie or show listing.

Netflix allows you to keep up to 100 downloads on as many devices as are included in your subscription plan. Each of the downloads has a different expiration date based on its content license — some expire as little as 48 hours after you first start watching. Downloads can be renewed, but some have a limit on how many times per year. If a movie or show leaves the Netflix service, all downloads for it end immediately.

You can delete individual movies and shows by unchecking the checkbox next to each title. You can remove all your downloads by going to your Application settings and clicking “Delete all downloads” below Downloads.

A Downloads tab (called My Downloads in Windows) at the bottom of the Netflix app shows you what downloads are in your library and lets you play them. It also allows you to adjust download settings, such as Smart shots.

How do Netflix Smart Downloads work?

of Netflix Smart shots The option provides an easy way to manage your downloaded movies and TV shows. It basically contains two download options — Download Next Episode and Downloads for you.

Netflix Smart Downloads Settings on Android

Download Next Episode keeps you updated on TV shows. Downloads For You automatically downloads suggestions up to a certain file storage limit.

Netflix/Photo by Peter Butler/CNET

When enabled, Download Next Episode it will automatically delete TV show episodes once you watch them and then download the next episode of the season. It’s unlikely for anyone who downloads TV shows, which is probably why the feature is enabled by default in the Netflix apps.

In the Windows Netflix app, it turns on Smart shots enables Download Next Episode, even though it’s not listed as a separate feature.

What are Netflix downloads for you?

Downloads for you extends the auto-download and delete options for Netflix used in Download Next Episode. The feature is available on the iPhone, iPad, and Android versions of the Netflix app, as well as some Chromebooks and Chromeboxes.

Once Downloads for You is turned on, Netflix uses your viewing habits and preferences to download movies and TV shows that the service thinks you’ll like. Once you watch them, they are automatically deleted.

A screenshot of the Netflix Downloads tab on iPhone

Once Downloads For You is enabled, automatic downloads will appear below the shows you’ve manually downloaded.

Netflix/Photo by Peter Butler/CNET

If you don’t want to watch a title you’ve downloaded, you can delete it the same way you would delete downloads you started manually. You can also click on the icon of a square surrounded by a broken circle to cancel downloads in progress. Downloads for You only works over Wi-Fi.

To enable Downloads for you, click on the Smart Downloads settings (via the Downloads tab or App Settings), then enable Downloads for you.

Enabling this feature will then open options to limit the data that Netflix will automatically download for each user profile, anywhere from 0.5GB to 9.5GB. (Netflix notes that one hour of video in normal quality is about 0.25GB.)

What movies and TV shows can’t be downloaded from Netflix?

Whether a movie or TV show can be downloaded on Netflix depends on its content license, and licenses vary from title to title. Netflix says it tries to make as many titles available for download as possible, and when a movie or show can’t be downloaded, it’s usually for three reasons:

  • Another company has exclusive content rights
  • Content rights are not available for purchase
  • Popularity, cost or seasonal factors

A quick search of Netflix’s most popular titles shows that all of the top 10 movies and top 10 TV shows in the US are available for download starting October 3rd.

In my informal research, the titles I’ve found most likely to be excluded from downloads are popular TV shows from cable or broadcast networks. “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Gilmore Girls,” and “The Walking Dead” are three shows you can stream on Netflix, but not download.

Can I watch Netflix downloads in any country?

It depends on whether Netflix has the content license in the country you are visiting for the movie or show you want to watch.

Geo-restrictions that limit streaming titles in certain countries also apply to movies and TV shows you’ve received. If you’re traveling to a country where Netflix doesn’t show the title you downloaded, you won’t be able to watch it, even though you’ve already downloaded it in your country.

Trying to watch a downloaded movie in a country where Netflix doesn’t show it will result in an error message in the Netflix app: “The download is not available in this country — Not all downloads are available to watch in every country”.

VPN software that creates virtual private networks can be used to bypass geo-restrictions, but Netflix goes to great lengths to prevent VPNs from working with its service. Using a VPN to bypass geo-blocking could also be considered a violation of Netflix’s terms of service.

For more on Netflix, check out our best of lists science fiction and fiction movies on the streaming service.

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