In an interview with The Verge, Netflix’s chief product officer says that Netflix will start streaming in Ultra HD (4K) within 1-2 years. He also says that House of Cards will be re-mastered in 4K and encourages the film industry to switch to the HFR (high frame rate) format.
Netflix: 4K streaming within 1-2 years
Netflix plans to launch 4K streaming within 1-2 years, says chief product officer Neil Hunt. He believes that streaming is the platform best suited for delivery of 4K content as the broadcast industry has far greater challenges in upgrading systems and equipment and because Blu-ray is not expected to move to 4K right now.
Neil Hunt explains that there are still things to work on in regards to compressions and decoding but expects it to be solved as early as 2013 so Netflix can move on with the 4K streaming plans.
Netflix and Samsung demonstrated 4K streaming from Netflix on a Samsung Ultra HD TV at CES 2013 in Las Vegas
Netflix’s streaming technology is based on the so-called adaptive streaming technology where content is encoded in many different “layers”. If Netflix wants to add 4K streaming they can add it as the top layer that automatically becomes available for owners of Ultra HD TVs and streaming hardware with 4K support.
Neil Hunt reveals that Netflix’s first original TV series, House of Cards with Kevin Spacey, has been recorded in 4K. It will be one of the first projects to take the step to 4K.
House of Cards is currently mastered in HD but the raw recording material is available in 4K so it is just a matter of taking it back to the mastering room and re-encoding it.
Frame rate more important than pixel count
Neil Hunt also addresses the debate of frame rate contra pixel count. The Hobbit was the first movie recorded and shown in HFR and it is something Neil Hunt would love to see more of.
He goes as far as to say that higher frame rate is more important than more pixels right now, and urges the film industry to take the step to 60 fps. He does not reveal it Netflix plans to support HFR in the coming years.