Why has Netflix’s Transition to 4k HEVC been so challenging so far

Netflix’s chief product officer, Neil Hunt, talks about Netflix’s switch to HEVC, or Ultra high definition, or 4K content, refers to the size of images in pixels in a stream. Full HD or 1080p content has images with 1920×1080 pixels while 4K has 4096×2160 px images.

According to Hunt, one of the changes Netflix ended up making to its systems, to enable 4K streaming, was to switch from the h.264 encoding to High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) h.265 encoding which he says is a little bit more efficient, therefore not taking up as much bandwidth to stream.

He also said that Netflix improved its adaptive streaming technology to give subscribers a seamless transition to 4K content. Using adaptive streaming, watchers may start viewing content via a high-definition 720p stream and then to a 1080p stream as the system loads the 4K content.

Hunt also acknowledged that to see 4K content, subscribers also needed to have television sets with built-in HEVC h.265 decoders. However, he said that all 4K television sets launched last year have h.265 decoders.

He noted that more people are buying 4K televisions, another barrier to the 4K content rollout, and that more content are being produced in 4K. The company is admittedly starting with in-house Netflix shows but Hunt said that they have been in constant contact with content makers to talk about the possibility of shooting in 4K.

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