Netflix CEO talks 4K streaming requirements

By on September 24, 2013, 3:00 PM

Netflix is expected to be one of the pioneers in 4K content streaming at some point in the not-too-distant future. There are several hurdles to clear before we reach that realization but it’s something that CEO Reed Hastings is already investing a great deal of thought into.

During a recent interview with Claus Bülow Christensen, the producer of the Copenhagen Future of TV Conference, Hastings said he believes 4K video will first come to tablets, notebooks and desktop PCs as resolutions on those devices improve. This will help to set in motion the adoption curve and eventually lead to lower-cost 4K televisions.

Currently, 4K television sets can be had for anywhere between $3,500 for a 55-inch Samsung set up to a whopping $25,000 for a massive 84-inch model from Sony. These prices will certainly come down over time but how long that takes is really anyone’s guess at this point.

Delivering 4K content to Internet-connected devices has been a topic of keen interest lately but according to Hastings, the minimum requirement is around 15 megabits per second. Anyone with a 50-megabit connection will be fine, he said.

He goes on to suggest ISPs shouldn’t have much to worry about in terms of bandwidth requirements. Considering that it’s likely that only a few people in a given neighborhood will be watching 4K video simultaneously, system load overall will grow slowly and steadily. This, Hastings believes, will give ISPs plenty of time to build the necessary infrastructure.




User Comments: 17

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2 people like this | Guest said:

The problems with streaming 4K are many:

1. No one has 4K TVs and likely won't for many years

2. There is little 4K content and the cost to produce it is higher than 1080p

3. Perceived quality advantage over 1080p

4. Infrastructure needs build out

5. Bandwidth and traffic shaping issues during peak

7. Data caps (biggest problem of all seven)

I'm not saying don't do it, but let's at least get good at streaming 1080p before going headlong into 4K.

stbecker said:

Some problems yes, but not as bad as you think.

1. TVs are in stores now, so they are available. There's no real point w/o content, but ...

2. More content is becoming available all the time. Production costs over 1080 are not prohibitive. I've seen estimations in the 50% range -- not nearly as turbulent a change as seen from SD to HD.

3. Valid point. I don't often stand with my nose 2" from my 70" TV. But if I had a 100"... (dreaming).

4. Infrastructure? If Netflix has the content, the Internet is already here.

5. Could be an issue, but only if this content is widely adopted. And with Netflix pushing out content mirrors to the edge of the network, it's not like the entire world is attempting to stream from the same source.

6. Or 7. I'd hate to think ISPs would go to a tiered structure like wireless, but it is possible.

I've done some research on video compression and the good news here is that the bandwidth required to deliver video content could be halved with new standards. The bad news is that you can only compress things so far, so this isn't a long-term solution forever (think 8K). I would hazard a guess that content delivery will be pushed closer to the consumer down the road, if that's possible.

I guess that's me just being optimistic. Bring it!

Guest said:

4K?, are we going to jump from 720p and 1080i to 4K?

tonylukac said:

Netflix doesn't even stream in 1080p yet. Not really feasible for the infrastructure, go back to theaters. For all the expense of a 50M connection, what movies did I see this summer? Sequels to star trek or the hobbit? Streamed the hobbit in 720p, but also went to the theater. 1/3rd of the people in my condo building couldn't pay the rent this month, and they aren't minorities. Just downgraded my brother from 6M to 1.5M due to cost.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

4K?, are we going to jump from 720p and 1080i to 4K?

Why not?

JC713 JC713 said:

4K?, are we going to jump from 720p and 1080i to 4K?

There is no difference really between 1080i and 1080P, so this jump isnt anything to complain about.

I think it is great that you only need 15mbps to stream 4K content.

1 person liked this | stbecker said:

Netflix doesn't even stream in 1080p yet.

Sure they do. https://support.netflix.com/en/node/8731

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

So many people use Netflix in Australia already. They should have a formal presence here!

Guest said:

"4K" is 3840x2160, the name is just a marketing ploy. 1080 x 2 = 2160... However the fact that most streaming content is 1280x720, jumping to 3840x2160 is pretty sweet, I may finally have to upgrade my 2560x1440 monitor.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Stream HD 1080P that's it for us now, 4K or 8K or higher will be expensive and then Netflix will want to raise the price from $7.99 plus tax $8.49 for me a month but I am not welling to pay more. Then it will become like the old CATV was. Here we have people bying these Ultra HD sets.

Timonius Timonius said:

"4K" is 3840x2160, the name is just a marketing ploy.

Not really a marketing ploy. 4K is just a simple way of saying 3840x2160 (~8 million pixels) displays are four times the resolution of 1920x1080 (~2 million pixels).

Puiu Puiu said:

"4K" is 3840x2160, the name is just a marketing ploy. 1080 x 2 = 2160... However the fact that most streaming content is 1280x720, jumping to 3840x2160 is pretty sweet, I may finally have to upgrade my 2560x1440 monitor.

pretty sure that 4K comes from having 1080p x4 (1920x1080x4) and it's a name given by us "nerds". the marketing ploy is naming it Ultra HD.

Emexrulsier said:

All this "HD" lark is bs imo, on my massive samsung crt back in the late 90s I was resolutions on pm what console and tv ppl are now doing and calling "HD" I think they should get rid of all this full hd, hd ready, ultra hd blah blah blah and even ditch interlace and just make it like PCs and show the max resolution.

OortCloud said:

They can stream any resolution they like if they down the bit rate of the encoding.

That's the trouble with all this HD/4K etc video on the web (and even on set-top boxes) - it might have a high resolution but at times the stream is so compressed that the picture is full of noticeable blocking and blurring and mosquito noise despite being at 1920x1080 resolution. Often I think it would have been better to have had a lower resolution and less compression.

Guest said:

Right now a good 720p stream at 60fps is 3200Kbps, so 2160p at 60fps would need close to 30,000Kbps. That's like 30GB an hour.

(I just estimated in my head, feel free to correct me, :p)

alcarin2030 alcarin2030 said:

You were not at HD with the content available in the 90's. Sorry bud.

All this "HD" lark is bs imo, on my massive samsung crt back in the late 90s I was resolutions on pm what console and tv ppl are now doing and calling "HD" I think they should get rid of all this full hd, hd ready, ultra hd blah blah blah and even ditch interlace and just make it like PCs and show the max resolution.

thewind said:

Right now a good 720p stream at 60fps is 3200Kbps, so 2160p at 60fps would need close to 30,000Kbps. That's like 30GB an hour.

(I just estimated in my head, feel free to correct me, :p)

Last time I checked movies played at 24fps! Only the new hobbit movie was done in 60fps and some people liked it some said it gave them a headache...

http://www.funtrivia.com/askft/Question18833.html

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