Netflix soon streaming 4K
Netflix will soon begin streaming 4K content – but only to specific 4K TVs. A new Netflix app on some new 4K TVs will facilitate this new service.
In a recent interview, Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt confirmed Netflix Originals series House of Cards would stream in 4K. “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.”
The reason these streams will only be available on a TV app should be obvious with a brief thought: There are no 4K sources. Even those that promise 4K output are not there yet. Hunt explains, “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.”
Hunt goes on to explain that these 4K streams are being made possible through a new compression codec called HEVC, or H.265. “We think with that we’re going to be delivering in the 10-16Mbps range – about 15Mbps is probably what we should think of.”
HEVC – or High Efficiency Video Coding – is assumed to provide similar video quality of the current H.264 standard at half the bitrate. “The benefits trickle down; 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,” Hunt explains.
Because 4K content is lacking, the second season of House of Cards will be filmed and edited in 4K. This is something Amazon has also committed to doing in 2014.