Using media content from online offers offline is less complicated than it sounds. Almost all streaming providers rely on the function of caching content in their apps and being able to retrieve it later without an Internet connection.
This is not only used by commuters, but also “especially by parents who load content for their children on a tablet or smartphone before traveling,” says a spokeswoman for the SWR, which is responsible for the ARD media library.
The advantages are obvious, says Munich streaming app expert Maximilian Reichlin: “The feature allows you to enjoy movies and series even if the connection is poor or fluctuates greatly, for example in households with moderate reception or on the go.”
Offline function may cost
The offline function is not always in vain. “Especially in music streaming with advertising-financed freemium models, such a function is an incentive to switch to a paid account,” says Reichlin. Here’s how Spotify competitor Deezer advertises: “No Internet connection? No problem.” Even with Youtube and other video streaming providers with a free offer, the offline feature is reserved for paying customers.
On the other hand, the function is free of charge in the public media library apps of ARD, ZDF, Arte or 3sat. And with streaming providers à la Netflix or Disney+, there is no free content anyway, the offline function is part of the subscription.
However, downloaded content from streaming providers or media libraries is not always available. “Unlike a complete download, content here can only be viewed within an app,” says lawyer Christian Solmecke. Then it depends on how long the respective licenses run.
Little is permanent
Even the public media libraries can only offer many of their content for a certain period of time. After that, the respective content disappears from the offline deployment. Not everything is available offline. “For example, in sports, this is not always possible,” explains a ZDF spokesman.
“Platforms like Netflix or Disney+ have it easier because they mostly rely on their own content,” says Maximilian Reichlin.
Despite the tendency of many users to hoard content: stored content that is and remains available should eventually be “disposed of” again. Reichlin advises to clean up the download lists regularly. Due to the system, there is a limit of 50 offline contents in the ARD media library on Android devices.
The urge to collect audio and video material is nothing new: “Even at the time of the VHS cassette, most recordings were never seen,” says Prof. Hallenberger. Compared to videotape, however, the technical possibilities have improved significantly: “Storage volumes can be purchased very inexpensively today.”
Internal memory is the trump card
But not everything can be controlled with SD cards or USB sticks. For example, in the ARD media library, but also in many other apps, it is not possible to move the data from the internal memory of the device to an external storage medium.
Anyway: Downloaded content is not for eternity. Probably, one should put up with it. Even if this is contrary to an inner human urge: “Apart from radio holes and data volumes, it is above all about concepts of possession and availability learned from youth,” says Prof. Hallenberger. And of course the deep fear of the buffer icon.