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Netflix CPO: Expect 4K Streaming Within Two Years

14 Mar, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt

SVOD leader considers ultra high-definition format more readily adaptable to streaming than broadcast

Netflix reportedly is gearing up to stream movies and TV shows in 4K resolution within the next year or two, according to chief product officer Neil Hunt.

4K resolution, which delivers about four times the high-definition resolution of 1080p, requires compatible TV monitors to view content.

Hunt said much of the raw footage of Netflix’s “House of Cards” original series was shot in 4K and mastered in full-HD for streaming. He hopes to be able to stream some of “Cards” 4K encodes in the near future.

Hunt believes streaming will be the easiest channel to deliver 4K content into homes compared with TV broadcast and packaged media. Challenges include the bitrates (20-40Mbps) required to deliver 4K and whether enough households have ISP connections capable of delivering the required speed.

In addition, the larger bitrates could easily consume much of a consumer’s monthly data cap — a scenario Netflix is attempting to address through its proprietary Open Connect content delivery network (CDN).

“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,” Hunt said in an interview with TheVerge.com. “4K will likely be streamed first before it goes anywhere else.”

Sony has been the most aggressive pushing 4K to retail, saying it will launch two new Ultra HDTV sets as well as a 4K movie download service this summer.

This spring, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will begin releasing Blu-ray Discs mastered in 4K — a first for the industry. Initial titles include The Amazing Spider-Man, The Karate Kid and The Other Guys.


About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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