Take That, Netflix: Epix to Launch Offline Movie Viewing

Premium cable network Epix later this month will let subscribers watch movies on mobile devices when they’re not connected to the Internet — a feature subscription VOD leader Netflix has said it will never offer.

The move by Epix, a joint venture of Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and MGM, comes as its licensing pact with Netflix is set to expire at the end of September. Epix reached a deal with Hulu that commences Oct. 1, and renewed its pact with Amazon Prime earlier this year.

Epix touted the offline-viewing capability as a first for a traditional TV network. The feature will be available on its mobile apps for Amazon Kindle Fire tablets and all Apple and Google Android smartphones and tablets including iPads, iPhones and Samsung and Nexus devices.

Amazon, meanwhile, this month expanded offline-viewing capability for Prime members to access movies and TV shows on Apple iOS and Android devices. That includes the films in Epix’s catalog.

“By creating a network-first, true TV Everywhere experience, consumers can now download a movie from our library and watch it anywhere, anytime, even without a Wi-Fi connection,” said Mark Greenberg, Epix president and CEO. He helpfully pointed out use cases for the feature: Subs can watch titles while waiting at the airport, on a train or on a camping trip.

Epix offers some 3,000 titles on demand, including films in “The Hunger Games,” James Bond and Star Trek franchises, as well as original documentaries and music and comedy events featuring marquee talent including Katy Perry, Craig Ferguson, Louis CK and Mark Maron.

However, only the top few hundred titles on Epix will be available for offline viewing. Those will be available for users to view multiple times within 30 days of downloading a title and/or within seven days of first viewing it (unless the title exits the Epix rights window in that time). Epix users can download up to 25 titles at once.

The premium network plans to launch the offline-viewing feature with a marketing campaign in partnership with affiliated distributors, which include Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS and Cox Communications.

(Pictured above: Jennifer Lawrence in Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.”)

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