Netflix Is Talking Ultra HD Streaming in One to Two Years, Including 'House of Cards'

Posted Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 10:00 AM PDT by
Netflix Chief Product Officer

"Our goal is for people to get immersed in the story, whatever that is."

In an interview with the Verge, Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt made it clear that Netflix has big plans to be a leader in Ultra HD. "Streaming will be the best way to get the 4K picture into people's homes. That's because of the challenges involved in upgrading broadcast technologies and the fact that it isn't anticipated within the Blu-ray disc standard. Clearly we have much work to do with the compression and decode capability, but we expect to be delivering 4K within a year or two with at least some movies and then over time become an important source of 4K. 4K will likely be streamed first before it goes anywhere else."

Also discussed in the interview is the strides that the company has made through Open Connect. By paying for "the cost and expense of installing Open Connect servers at common peering points or within an ISP's network" Netflix has helped to shoulder and maintain its current 30 percent plus of total internet downstream traffic.

In fact, what Netflix describes as the biggest obstacle to providing the best quality and selection of streaming content including Ultra HD, is the quality of the source. While many are aware of the common issues that plagued Blu-ray distribution such as incorrect audio encodes, digital content delivered by the studios seems to be even more carelessly done. "We have a ridiculous 30 percent reject rate of assets delivered to us. I can't imagine any other industry surviving when they misdeliver three out of ten different assets. We get the wrong episode, or we get a soundtrack that doesn't match the content, or it has a giant drop-out, or the ads haven't been stripped out. There are lots of problems that have to deal with tracking and management. We need a digital asset-management system that is shared across the industry, a standard or format."

Netflix's 'House of Cards' is already on-deck of Ultra HD treatment, "our own original House of Cards was shot in 4K. It's being mastered in full HD, but the raw footage, or a good chunk of it, was shot in 4K, and we hope to have some House of Cards 4K encodes later this year.

While Netflix has already demonstrated an Ultra HD streaming prototype, the Chief Product Officer mentioned framerate as lagging behind strides in resolution. "I would love to see the industry get to 60p as a routine standard for shooting material in the first place, instead of the exception. The ultra-HD standard allows for 48p, 60p and 120p framerate delivery... We have a lot of work as an industry to make the frame rate catch up to the same kinds of high quality as the pixel resolution."

When asked directly about if there was a demand of need for Ultra HD, the Chief Product Officer responded, "Our goal is for people to get immersed in the story, whatever that is. And to that end we try to make the technology as seamless and smooth as possible."

Source: The Verge

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Tags: 4K TVs (18 posts), Ultra HD (1 post), Netflix (all tags)