Netflix Expands its 4K Ultra HD Streaming Roster to Include Breaking Bad, Others

by on June 19, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – June 19th, 2014

The 4K streaming content market grows a little bit bigger this week with the rollout of “Breaking Bad”, “Smurfs 2” and both of the “Ghostbusters” films in 4K Ultra HD on Netflix. Up to now, the entertainment provider had only been offering “House of Cards” season 2 and the four-part “Moving Art” nature documentary series in 4K streaming format.

Although only a few thousand subscribers across the U.S are currently capable of even viewing all of these selections in full 4K glory thanks to their still expensive 4K TVs, the market will almost certainly expand further as the prices of 4K display technologies keep dropping and more entertainment providers expand the 4K content they offer.

The enormously popular and dominant video on demand subscription service Netflix has been working in contractual agreement with Sony Pictures Entertainment to slowly build up its collection of 4K offerings and make them available on certain brands of Ultra HD TV screens manufactured by makers such as Sony itself, LG, Samsung Electronics and eventually other TV makers.

4K UHD content is dramatically superior to 1080p Full HD because it offers a dazzling 3840 x 2160 pixels of deep resolution, a clarity that amounts to four times more pixel power than what’s currently common for most TVs and HD content.

So far however, the efforts by Netflix to move forward with 4K are still more than anything a symbolic way of showing how the company is on the cutting edge of extremely high definition streaming. The 4K market is still tiny and only a few hundred thousand 4K equipped TVs are expect to sell in the U.S this year according to sources such as the Consumer Electronics Association.

In effect, Netflix wants to take the lead in spreading Ultra HD entertainment and are moving into the market early and in a very public way by releasing 4K versions of extremely popular shows such as “House of Cards” and “Breaking Bad”. Manufacturers such as Sony, Samsung and LG benefit from the same push by developing a larger list of reasons for consumer to want to buy their still very expensive Ultra HD TVs.

Even more importantly for Netflix itself, pushing UHD is partly an attempt to goad large Internet Service Providers into installing Netflix Open Connect Caching servers, a new content delivery innovation that allows both a given ISP and Netflix to essentially partner together in collocating servers that deliver content for the sake of reduced bandwidth costs. This is currently a problem for Both Netflix and 4K TV manufacturers as well as for ISPs, since 4K content can’t easily be streamed via internet connections of less than 25Mbps.

And since the content market is still too small to be attractive, ISPs themselves aren’t yet interested in undertaking the costs of improving their connections to handle 4K and major electronics manufacturers aren’t garnering the 4K TV sales they really need to build a larger revenue base from the technology.

These new selections by Netflix are a move in the right direction for 4K UHD entertainment but they still leave the idea of widespread Ultra High definition streaming to 4K TVs a long way from full realization.

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