Amazon may have made waves earlier this month with news that it would now allow users to watch Prime Instant Video titles while offline, but now other video service providers are beginning to follow suit. The latest to introduce offline viewing on mobile devices is EPIX, the premium cable channel that’s a joint venture between Viacom, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, and MGM.
The soon-to-launch feature will work on a wide range of mobile devices, the company says, including iPhone, iPad, Android mobile phones and tablets, and Kindle Fire devices. However, unlike with Amazon’s implementation, EPIX’s offline movie viewing is not something available to over-the-top subscribers, but is rather an addition to EPIX’s current set of “TV Everywhere”-enabled apps.
EPIX app users will need to have a cable or satellite subscription from a company like AT&T U-verse, Bright House Networks, Cox, Dish, Time Warner, Verizon FiOS or others, in order to take advantage of the ability to download movies for offline viewing. The network notes it will also launch a marketing campaign with its affiliated distributors later this month to tout the new offering.
However, because this is a feature only available to pay TV subscribers, that makes it less compelling than Amazon Instant Video’s new offline support, which better appeals to the cord-cutting crowd. But at the very least, it’s an acknowledgement that offering on-demand video is only part of the solution – many consumers will still want and need a way to watch videos when an internet connection is not available.
EPIX’s move into offline movies follows last month’s news that Netflix ended its partnership with the channel. That means Netflix on October 1st will lose a number of high-profile titles, including films like Hunger Games: Catching Fire, World War Z and Transformers: Age of Extinction, for example.
Now these movies and others like those from the James Bond and Star Trek franchises will be available on EPIX’s app, alongside its original documentaries, music and comedy events featuring Katy Perry, Craig Ferguson, Louis CK, Mark Maron and others.
Netflix, for what it’s worth, has notably stated that it will not offering offline viewing, saying that the feature would add complexity and may not be broadly adopted, despite consumer demands. That’s a reasonable enough decision, but one that reflects a more optimistic view of an internet-connected future rather than the realities of the world we live in today.
With spotty cellular coverage and slow public Wi-Fi networks, there are plenty of places where it’s technically possible, but, in practice, very frustrating to try to watch streaming video on mobile devices. You can probably list a good handful of everyday spots where you’ve tried and failed to get a good stream going.
The EPIX app today offers thousands of titles for streaming. Beginning later this month, they’ll be available for download, too.
Though competing premium networks have beaten EPIX to launch over-the-top services, EPIX notes it was the first to offer its content across multiple platforms and now is the first to offer offline viewing. In addition to mobile devices, EPIX also has apps for Xbox, PlayStation, Roku and works with Chromecast and Android TV.