SAN FRANCISCO — Netflix subscribers can now binge on many of their favorite shows and movies even when they don't have an Internet connection.
The long-awaited option announced Wednesday gives Netflix's 87 million subscribers offline access to videos for the first time in the streaming service's decadelong history.
Netflix is matching a downloading feature that one of its biggest rivals, Amazon.com, has been offering to its video subscribers for the past year. It's something that's also been available on YouTube's popular video site, though a subscription is required in the United States and other countries where the site sells its "Red" premium service.
The new feature puts Netflix a step ahead of two other major rivals. Offline options aren't available on HBO's Internet-only package, HBO Now, or Hulu, although that service has said it hopes to introduce a downloading feature.
Netflix subscribers wishing to download a video on their smartphone or tablet need to update the app on their Apple or Android device.
Not all of the selections in Netflix's library can be downloaded, although several of the service's most popular shows, including Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards and Stranger Things, are now available offline.
Downloadable movies include Spotlight, this year's Oscar winner for best film. Notably missing from the downloadable menu are movies and TV shows made by Walt Disney Co.
The Los Gatos, Calif., company is promising to continue to add more titles to its offline roster.