Watch TV without streaming this holiday season

Watch TV without streaming this holiday season... in the car, airplane, or cruise ship

This time next week you’ll be trapped in a car on the way to a big family gathering, or perhaps at a family gathering that you’re ready to leave. When you just want a few moments to escape and enjoy something by yourself, make sure you’re prepared with some downloaded content to watch offline.

Downloading is convenient since we don’t all have access to a strong internet connection at all times. It can be a lifesaver to have video content available without streaming it.

While a service like Netflix or HBO may have the necessary rights to offer a title for streaming, they may not be able to offer it for download. The reason that it’s not available for all services across the board comes down to tricky licensing agreements.
Make sure you’re not twiddling your thumbs with these tips, tricks, and cheats that will make it easier for you to escape this holiday.

Tip: Know which services will let you download

Netflix and Amazon will let you download most shows, with limits on the number of times you can download it, or limits on how many devices to which you can download it – all based on the rights they have per title. Vimeo will let you download most TED Talks and most indie productions. YouTube Red allows you to download content. Showtime Anytime will let you download. HBO, Hulu, and Crackle do not allow downloads.

Tip: Devices compatible with Netflix

Downloads for shows and movies to watch via your Netflix app will only work on Apple iOS or Android devices and computers or tablets running Windows 10.

Tip: Maximize available space

Make sure there is available internal storage space on your device. Perhaps you can delete or store some pictures in the cloud to free up space. If it’s an option, consider downloading extra content to an SD card. Kindle allows you to download music, videos, books, and audiobooks, and store personal videos on an external microSD card.

Trick: Download in Standard Definition

Choose to download your movie or show in standard definition instead of high definition. A 2-hour movie in standard definition takes up about a ½ GB, while the HD version is closer to 1GB. You’ll be able to fit twice the shows and movies on your device. It’s unlikely you’ll notice the difference in resolution if you’re watching it on a small device.

Tip: Get the latest version of the app

Make sure you have the latest version of all of the apps before you hit the road, as downloads typically only work with the most recent app version.

Tip: Delete unwanted content

Your content won’t download unless there’s space. Some Kindle Fire models have options to install profiles for users. Each user is limited to a share of the available storage space, so you may need to manually adjust the limits to accommodate content. Go to Settings/Device Options/ Storage to view and manage storage space per profile.

Tip: Get the most content

You have the option to purchase content and download it to a device. This is especially effective if you have young children who watch the same video repeatedly. To maximize the number of hours of entertainment you get per dollar, consider choosing a series instead of a movie. You can get 6-8 hours of entertainment in a TV show for the same price as a movie.

Trick: Save your data

It doesn’t make a difference if you download or stream a movie, it takes a similar amount of data to do either. Download your shows while you have access to WiFi to avoid using data to download large amounts of video.

Tip: Downloading may not work in another country

If you’re out of the country, you’ll find out that downloaded content from Netflix doesn’t always work. Netflix is required to follow the laws that regulate what you can watch internationally, determined by your home country membership and your geographical location.
Your choices for streaming will vary from country to country. If you are using Netflix outside the US, you’ll get a notification directly in the app regarding limitations.

Cheat: Manage what devices get downloads

If you get blocked by licensing restrictions and can’t download a video to a specific device, you can manage your active download devices by logging into and going to your Account page.

Trick: Download Prime Video app on Android

The Prime Video app isn’t available in the Google Play store. There is a four-step hack to get a copy of the Prime Video app onto an Android device that you can use to bypass the restriction, which might be worth it if you have no other download options. You can find the instructions by searching the internet. Amazon Video lets you have 15 or 25 downloads, depending on your location and the titles you’re downloading.

Tip: Stream with Amazon’s Watch While Abroad carousel

Most Prime titles can only be streamed or downloaded from within the US. Look for “Watch While Abroad” on titles you want to download from Amazon or see what titles are available to watch outside the US.

Cheat: Download on Amazon to get around country restrictions

You can download selected Prime titles to play offline while you’re traveling abroad. Amazon doesn’t limit playback of downloads by location.

Tip: Make sure it won’t expire

If it’s a critical addition to your library, check the expiration date on Netflix before you download it. If a movie or show you have downloaded is no longer available on Netflix, the download will expire, too. You won’t be able to play it even though it’s downloaded.

**Enjoy your holiday with family and friends. If you can’t, make sure you’ve got lots of content downloaded to get through the week. **

Megan Southard


Article Author

Megan Southard is a writer, mom, technology enthusiast, and movie junkie. She dreads the day her kids have to explain gadgets to her and is old enough to say, "I was the remote for our TV growing up.

Disclaimer: This article may have had additional images, links or data that was added by this site's editor.

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