Netflix is re-encoding its entire catalog to boost quality and reduce data consumption

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,619   +139
Staff member

Netflix accounts for over a third of Internet traffic during peak hours in North America. That's more than its major competitors combined, a fact the streaming media giant is no doubt proud of. It's why any changes to its formula - like the one it has been working on for the past four years - is such a risky endeavor.

As Variety explains, Netflix used to prepare its video files for streaming based on assumed connection speeds. By that, I mean it would have multiple copies of each file for varying connection speeds and send out the appropriate quality based on available end-user bandwidth.

This method, of course, was flawed.

Netflix realized that you shouldn't allocate the same amount of bits for every show and movie. An animated cartoon like My Little Pony doesn't require much data to produce - far less than, say, a movie like Avengers. Simply put, a one-size-fits-all model doesn't work. Heck, even categorizing titles (action movies, slow dramas, etc.) is too general.

The solution was that each title should get its own set of encoding "rules." And not just each series, but each individual episode in a series.

The end result is that Netflix is able to deliver a better quality stream that consumes up to 20 percent less bandwidth. Considering how ISPs like Comcast are cracking down on bandwidth usage, any savings will be greatly appreciated.

Netflix said it tested the new streams internally; its own employees couldn't spot the difference between new and old streams. Variety also sampled the streams, noting that both looked virtually identical even though one was streaming at 5800kbps and the other was at 4640kbps.

Netflix quietly added a small sample of "new" videos to its catalog earlier this month with plans to replace its full catalog by the end of Q1 2016.

Permalink to story.

 

VitalyT

Posts: 6,032   +6,400
Sounds like too much hassle for the 20% of savings, especially considering that moving towards 4K and x265 codec will decimate the difference.
 

MilwaukeeMike

Posts: 3,214   +1,468
They're going to encode like a bajillion peta-bytes of video? Finally.... a good use for those bitcoin miners we've had collecting dust in the basement.
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,464   +6,149
Sounds like too much hassle for the 20% of savings, especially considering that moving towards 4K and x265 codec will decimate the difference.

I'm not entirely sure netflix can use the upcomming x265 codec unless it pays a fee per title. The current x264 requires you to license in order to use over the internet, for profit or not.

You are right though, too much effort for only 20%. In the area I live, we've had the same speed internet offered since I was 13. First it was roadrunner 35 Mb/s and now it's time warner of the same speed.

ISPs have no only been making a killing on their internet pricing for a long time now but they have been, in addition, getting large amounts of public money towards improving their infrastructure. I wonder, does the government even at all care that they threw money at these companies, expecting them to act in good faith, and didn't fulfill their end of the contract? I know new york is taking verizon to task because they didn't expand their network as promised but what about the hundreds of other places where the very same thing happened?
 
Sounds like too much hassle for the 20% of savings, especially considering that moving towards 4K and x265 codec will decimate the difference.

I'd imagine at the amount of bandwidth Netflix must use 20% will equate to a massive cost saving in terms of the bandwidth bill.
 
R

RustyTech

I'm really surprised you guys are saying that 20% is not a lot of bandwidth savings! That's actually A LOT!
Think bigger numbers. If before they would upload a total of 1,000 they now will only upload 800 (doesn't matter which metric you use).
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 6,752   +5,193
I know new york is taking verizon to task because they didn't expand their network as promised but what about the hundreds of other places where the very same thing happened?
Actually, it is TWC, Verizon, and Cablevision. And if you are in NY State, the AG wants you to speed test using this site http://internethealthtest.org/ and report the results to them.

Considering how ISPs like Comcast are cracking down on bandwidth usage
In my opinion, they are charging more and "cracking down" because they can. To me, the internet really needs more competition. It is coming, but certainly not at a rate I would like. As soon as the local company laying fiber hits my neighborhood, I'm dropping Thugs Warner and switching to them.