Netflix Hopes To Deliver 4K Streaming In Next 1-2 Years

Mike Wheatley

We’ve heard lots of noise from TV makers like Sony and Samsung in recent weeks, both of whom have been bullish about the prospect of delivering the 4K format to the living room in the near future. Now Netflix has entered the fray, claiming that it’ll be able to stream Ultra HD TV shows and movies to its customers within the next “one to two years” at the most.

Netflix hopes to deliver 4K streaming in next 1-2 years

The comments came from Netflix’s Chief Product Office Neil Hunt in an interview with The Verge magazine yesterday, just weeks after the company began offering Super HD and 3D streams for the first time. While Super HD streaming typically takes up 5-7 Mbps of bandwidth, and 3D streams use up anything from 6-12 Mbps, 4K would eat up substantially more – although no one seems to know exactly how much it would take for certain.

Even so, Hunt sounded confident when he told The Verge that Netflix hoped to have a viable 4K streaming service up and running within 24 months at the most, though he acknowledged work still needs to be done.

“Clearly, there’s lots of work to be done with decode and compression techniques, but we expect that we can deliver 4K content in the next year or two, at least with some movies and shows,” explained Hunt.

“Over time, Netflix aims to become a vital source of 4K content, as we know that streaming is the easiest way of delivering this into the living room. To this end, our own original series House of Cards was shot in 4K, and hopefully we can begin streaming this before the end of the year.”

Hunt’s definitely right about one thing. Regular broadcasters lack the infrastructure to deliver 4K content by traditional means, while packaged media such as Blu-rays and DVDs do not contain enough space either, and so for now streaming remains the most viable option. Of course there are plenty of challenges in the way, including the required 20-40Mbps bitrates and the fact that many household ISPs simply aren’t fast enough to deal with this.

However, Netflix is hopeful that these problems can be overcome. In his interview, Hunt said that it remains to be seen how much bandwidth is required for 4K, but pointed out that the new HEVC (H.265) codec would almost certainly help broadcasters to reduce this. We’ll bring you more news as soon as we hear it.

Source: The Verge