The 4K and post-4K plans that Netflix has for digital content

by on February 3, 2016

Stephan Jukic – February 3, 2016

4K TVs are now not only affordable but also more popular than ever and this was a definite trend in the making right from the start, leaving room for one to wonder how anyone could have doubted the future of 4K ultra HD resolution.

Now however, as 4K becomes standardized, the real search for quality visuals in both TV screens and content itself isn’t even so much about ultra HD resolution itself. Yes, 4K is important still but the real kicker for quality content is apparently turning out to be the superior quality offered by high dynamic range (HDR) and the wider color gamut it offers, along with superior contrast clarity.

This is what Netflix, one of the leaders in the 4K streaming content revolution is also focusing heavily on these days.

In a recent interview with Digital Trends, Neil Hunt, chief product officer in the Netflix Hierarchy, explained that Netflix is focused even more heavily on HDR. According to Hunt, HDR is “the next big thing in TV.”

He furthermore explained that “I think HDR is more visibly different than 4K. Over the past 15 years, we have had plenty of increments of pixels on the screen, and from what we saw with digital cameras, pixel count eventually stopped being interesting”. In simpler and more practical consumer-oriented terms, people have a hard time distinguishing 20 megapixels from 24 megapixels in a camera and likewise in TV screens, the distinction between Full HD and 4K UHD on a smaller display is very hard to spot. On larger TVs it becomes visible but even then, further near-term increments from 4K UHD to DCI 4K are not likely to generate much visible difference.

HDR in video content

HDR in video content

On the other hand, HDR, once implemented in a TV screen or in a piece of content for deliver to a display that’s capable of displaying HDR content, looks strikingly more distinct than a basic increase in pixel count does.

As Hunt said to Digital Trends, “In the real world, you have 14 bits of brightness difference, so imagine stepping outside to look at a reflection of water or shadow of a tree that’s between 12 and 14-bits of range. TV represents only 8-bits, so you lose one of the other; you can’t have the brights or the darks at the same time.”

This is where HDR becomes crucial. It allows for an image realism and resulting color saturation that more closely reflect reality than had ever before been possible with digital or analog TV display. This is what Netflix is investing a lot of money and effort in with its attempts to deliver HDR content to their subscribers, particularly now as HDR-capable 4K TVs catch up on this trend as well.

The company is thus now shooting all of their original shows not only in Ultra HD resolution (between 4K and even as high as 6.5K in some cases) but also shooting with cameras capable of capturing full high dynamic range so that the highest possible realism can be delivered to owners of 4K TVs.

Furthermore, even if the switch to 8K resolution is made down the road, within the next few years, and we start to even see streamed 8K video hit such TVs, HDR should still play a major part in the visual quality of this even higher level of ultra HD.

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  • Jason Wang
    February 4, 2016 at 4:24 am

    Pretty cool, I got a new 4k TV wanting to be properly used for quite some time now. The biggest problem with Netflix currently is content geoblock, doubt that I get to see much movies or series with limited volume on Wondering how big 40mins auf a 4k episode is


      February 5, 2016 at 2:12 am

      Hello Jason,

      thanks for your comment on our service. We do support Netflix streaming as well as 4k movies and series. It sounds like you are on the free plan of our service. The free plan is meant to try out the service as well as giving people the opportunity of surfing securely and more anonymously who can not afford the premium tier. Though our premium plan allows you to watch any stream you want without any bandwith or volume limitation whatsoever. Hope that helps for clarification.

      Felix @


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