Netflix to Stream House of Cards in 4K via HEVC H.265 Compression
December 19, 2013 11:38 AM
Netflix says new compression format will improve picture for HD viewers too
attributed some of its impressive growth
to its successful and critically acclaimed original show
House of Cards
. Netflix will now use the second season of the show as a vehicle for its efforts to provide customers with 4k resolution content.
Netflix says that the 4K programming will be offered through smart TV apps on next generation 4k TVs. Netflix's Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt said in an interview with
, "We're not naming specific manufacturers, but we have several of the major TV vendors who are going to be producing 4K capable TVs – they'll be announcing them at CES."
As for the possibility of 4K streaming content coming to next generation consoles like the
, don’t hold your breath.
Hunt added, "The new game consoles may eventually be 4K-capable. But the ability to take 4K out of the box and drop it into a separate television is lacking some standards and HDMI 2.0, and it's just a little premature. So we probably will see that, but right now we're talking about 4K Netflix built into the smart TV."
While some of us have a hard time streaming full HD resolution broadcasts thanks to slow broadband speeds around much of the U.S., Netflix is leaning on technology to allow owners of 4K TVs to stream the higher resolution format.
"We're pushing forward with new encoding technology – we'll be using H.265, which is colloquially known as HEVC, instead of AVC H.264," Hunt explains. "We think with that we're going to be delivering in the 10-16Mbps range – about 15Mbps is probably what we should think of."
The new compression format will allow a higher resolution picture without needing a major step up in bitrate. Hunt promises that people that don’t have 4K TVs will also see a benefit, noting, “We're pioneering HEVC, which is about twice as efficient as AVC. And so, when we start to see those HEVC decoders get real, and the encoders get more efficient, we're going to be able to recode all the HD content – and the standard-def content, for that matter – in HEVC. So people with a 2 Mbps DSL will be able to receive a better picture than they do today."
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