The Stack Archive

Now you can save YouTube videos offline overnight – if you’re in India

Thu 9 Jun 2016

Google India has announced an innovation to the service it provides for Indian users of its YouTube app, whereby they are able to take advantage of cheaper night-time connectivity rates to download YouTube videos for playback at leisure.

The new service, announced at Google India’s official blog, is outlined at a dedicated YouTube page, and is initially rolling out to Airtel and Telenor subscribers. The functionality will not be permitted if the phone is connected via Wi-Fi, and has never been available in the desktop experience.

The premium $9.99 a month YouTube Red service, a monthly subscription to a higher-functionality version of YouTube, permits users to download and re-use videos offline for up to 30 days, mimicking the timed-out window of opportunity in other popular streaming services such as the BBC iPlayer.

‘Offline’ is a much-requested feature across all streaming platforms that currently have no support for it, but since it exposes content to the attentions of those seeking to decrypt it and share it in unauthorised arenas, it’s a concession to customer demand that providers are conflicted about. YouTube Red’s offline mode only works in ‘walled garden’, strictly controllable environments, such as the mobile space and gaming consoles.

In fact there would be little or no conflict for the likes of YouTube and Netflix if it were not for the unformed state of network connectivity in emerging markets – where all western outlets are seeking to gain a foothold in terms of loyalty and brand awareness; markets such as India, which is not only characterised by unusual geographical connectivity dead-zones, but by its telecom providers’ practice of charging more for connection during times of higher activity.

Netflix itself does not know how to solve the conundrum of leveraging developing markets without providing offline access. In late 2014 Netflix’s director of corporate communications and technology said that offline was ‘never going to happen’. Yet in April of this year CEO Reed Hastings backtracked on the blockade in a letter to shareholders, commenting “We should keep an open mind on this… We’ve been so focused on click-and-watch and the beauty and simplicity of streaming. But as we expand around the world, where we see an uneven set of networks, it’s something we should keep an open mind about.”


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