Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube have revolutionized how we watch TV by streaming movies and shows to your screen of choice. Then they went a step further to take the streaming out of streaming video, at least when it comes to phones and tablets. If anything, downloading a show gives you even more freedom because you can watch literally anywhere at any time without having to worry about the streaming quality. Right now, you can download movies and TV shows for those services and more besides, including Amazon Prime, HBO Go, Showtime, CBS All Access and the upcoming Disney Plus platform.
(Disclaimer: CBS is the parent company of CNET.)
Offline video downloads have ramped up in 2019, with more platforms offering the service to their customers than ever before. As competition gets fiercer, being able to offer offline video on demand is one way for subscription services to compete for valuable customer dollars.
Some of these apps make it easy to find videos you can download, the ones that don't will make you dig a little. Also, keep in mind you can't download any titles you want; you'll have to pick and choose from what these platforms make available. -- Disney Plus is the one exception where the entire catalog is up for grabs. Here's how to find and download shows and movies to watch online on the biggest streaming services.
Monthly subscription fee: Starts at $9
All downloadable titles on Netflix are in the Available for Download section. You can either download the shows using standard definition, which takes up less space and downloads quicker, or you can use high definition for better quality, but it takes up more space on your phone or tablet.
All titles available for download will show you a download icon shaped like an arrow. Some shows you can download on Netflix are Riverdale, The Office, Supernatural and Stranger Things. Click the icon when you've found a show you want to watch offline. When you're ready to watch the show, it'll be in the Downloads tab.
Monthly subscription fee: Starts at $12
YouTube allows you to download videos, but you must be a Premium member ($12 per month). If a video is downloadable, it'll have a red icon with a down-facing arrow. Click the icon to start downloading and select the video quality you prefer, which ranges from Low resolution (144p) to High (720p). Once the icon turns blue, it's fully downloaded and is ready to be viewed offline.
To access the videos you've saved, go to your Library tab and select Downloads. All YouTube Originals are available for downloading, as well as some YouTube channels.
Amazon Prime Video
Monthly subscription fee: $13 (or free with Amazon Prime membership)
Yearly subscription fee: $119 (same as above)
In order to download movies and videos, you'll need either an Amazon Prime membership or an Amazon Prime Video account ($9 per month, and it works out to about the same). All eligible shows will have a Download icon that you'll click on to download the show. The download quality ranges from Data Saver to Best, which determines how much data you use, the quality of the video and how quickly it'll download.
When you're ready to watch what you've saved, tap the Downloads icon (iOS) or My Stuff > Downloads (Android). Some shows you can download are Good Omens, Carnival Row and Fleabag (the Prime Originals videos we tried were all eligible for download).
Monthly subscription fee: $15
HBO Go offers select free titles for download to its subscribers. Once you find a downloadable movie, tap the Download icon (down-facing arrow). If downloading an entire series, each individual episode will have the download icon.
Monthly subscription fee: $7
Yearly subscription fee: $70
Disney Plus doesn't launch until November 12, but it will let you download all of its shows and movies to watch offline, including the Marvel movies and Disney Pixar animated films. We'll update this section once we have more details.
Monthly subscription fee: $12
You can now stream your favorite shows and movies offline with Hulu's new download feature. However, you must be subscribed to the no-ads plan and use an iPhone ($599 at Apple) or iPad ($281 at Back Market). Shows and movies that are available for download on Hulu will have an icon next to their titles. There's also a See What's Downloadable section where you can see the full list of movies and shows that are available for download.
Some of the popular shows you can download are The Handmaid's Tale, How I Met Your Mother and This is Us. After you've selected a show to watch, press the Download button. You've got the option to watch the video in Standard or High definition -- just tap the Downloads icon > Settings > and select your choice of video quality. When you're ready to view the show offline later, you can find them in the Downloads section.
Monthly subscription fee: $11
If a title is available for download on Showtime, you'll see a download icon. To download the show, tap the icon and select your quality preference. You'll find all your saved shows in the Downloads List section.
Showtime offers titles like Shameless and Dexter.
CBS All Access
Monthly subscription fee: $10
CBS All Access lets you download shows to watch offline with the commercial-free subscription. Using the Download & Play feature, you can download shows like Star Trek, Big Brother and Hawaii Five-0.
If a show is downloadable, it'll have a Download icon. Tap the icon to download the video and when you're ready to watch the show, go to Menu > Downloads.
Want to binge-watch more? Check out these six YouTube tricks you didn't know about for watching video on your TV and how to fix your slow YouTube videos.