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A Netflix offline mode could be on the way … but not for US users

Netflix is working on a feature that will let you watch movies while not connected to the internet, but the company's biggest market of the U.S. might not be the first to receive the update.

Speaking to CNBC ahead of the premiere of Netflix's new show "The Crown", the streaming giant's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, said an offline mode could appeal to areas where high internet speeds are not present.

"We have talked a lot about this over the years and our belief is that broadband and Wi-Fi become more and more ubiquitous, available in more and more places that you are, more and more minutes of the day," Sarandos told CNBC.

"Now as we've launched in more territories … They all have different levels of broadband speeds and Wi-Fi access. So in those countries they have adapted their behaviors to be much more of a downloading culture. So in those emerging territories it starts to become a little more interesting. We still think for the developed world our thesis has been true but I think as we get into more and more (of the) undeveloped world and developing countries that we want to find alternatives for people to use Netflix easily."

When asked if this feature will come to Netflix soon, Sarandos said the company is "looking at it now, so we'll see when". Sarandos did not give any more details. The idea will be that users of Netflix's app will be able to download movies to watch offline.

Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair, Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven and Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson featured in Netflix Original Series Stranger Things
Source: Netflix
Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair, Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven and Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson featured in Netflix Original Series Stranger Things

Earlier this year, Netflix launched in 130 new countries at once bringing its total reach to 190 different territories. In its latest quarter, Netflix added 3.2 million new international subscribers, and is hoping that regions outside of its home market will drive future growth.

It's not the first time Netflix has spoken about offline viewing. Chief Executive Reed Hastings said in April that the company should keep an "open mind" about the feature. But Sarandos' comments are the strongest indication yet that offline mode is in the works.

Netflix rival Amazon Prime Video already lets users download videos to watch offline.

International growth in focus

Focusing on making Netflix more easily available in emerging markets makes sense for the company. U.S. subscriber growth is slowing so Netflix is hoping new territories will keep momentum going, something investors are keen to see.

The company forecast that it will spend $6 billion on content in 2016 with 1,000 hours of new original Netflix-produced shows. Some of this will include local-language material but Netflix sees large global productions gaining appeal worldwide which could help drive growth.

"We are producing original shows in local languages … But I think it's a local flavor for a global product. So I think what people really love universally is great storytelling and big production value. We see that in the way American films travel around the world. Our goal is not to export American television around the world, our goal is to export great storytelling from everywhere in the world, to everywhere else in the world," Sarandos told CNBC.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of Amazon's video service.