Netflix Wants To Charge More For HDR Than 4K With New Subscription Level
Stephan Jukic – July 04, 2018
Since even before the technology first became widely available, we’ve always said that high dynamic range carried more visual impact than simple 4K ultra HD resolution, and unlike 4K, it’s immediately notable even of very small displays.
Netflix seems to agree with this viewpoint, even to the point of charging more for it. The streaming video and content production giant is now experimentally trialing a new “Ultra” subscription level that delivers exclusive access to all of Netflix’s HDR content from their current roster of HD and normal 4K UHD video sources. The new tier is of course more expensive at $16.99. In other words, the previous top-dog, the “Premium” subscription plan, which offered 4K UHD and HDR content options with the ability to stream them across four different screens will now only offer 4K ultra HD resolution while the new Premium package delivers all of the above plus HDR, which Premium will no longer include.
What this demonstrates more than anything is that Netflix really believes there’s a major future for HDR mastering of video content. The company believes that all those extra-vibrant colors, en enhanced visual realism and increased brightness levels will be something that consumers will want even if it’s pricier. This point of view could have particularly strong validity as an increasing percentage of 4K TVs come with high dynamic range rendering as part of their display specs (a thing which is increasingly becoming the case even for low-priced 4K TVs).
On the other hand, given the absurdly small selection of 4K HDR content in the Netflix library, the media giant will definitely have to up its game in terms of how much it can offer to justify that extra price. As things stand now, the Ultra package is in danger of being perceived as little more than an effort to squeeze more cash out of subscribers in a new U.S internet landscape that no longer offers the protections of net neutrality for companies like Netflix.
It’s also worth noting that creating and delivering HDR content is actually much less labor intensive than doing the same for 4K movies. The production storage and bandwidth requirements of ordinary video with HDR added to it are minimal, while the same needs for all the extra pixels of 4K UHD resolution make it much costlier overall. Thus, Netflix could also be viewing its new HDR package as a method of gaining extra revenue from a low-cost technology. Recently, the company even produced a new Original Series, “Star Trek: Discovery” with HDR mastering but without 4K resolution. Instead, the new series was created in a much lighter 2K resolution.
Like we said, the Netflix “Ultra” package trial balloon is just a pricing experiment for now, but we do have a feeling that it might end up sticking around.