Netflix Starts To Stream In 4K

Netflix confirmed Sunday that the second season of House of Cards and “some nature documentaries” are now available for streaming in the 4K/Ultra HD format.

For now, access is limited to TVs with Netflix and HEVC/H.265 decoding capabilities built in, Netflix  spokesman Joris Evers said via email. “It's available everywhere Netflix is available and the first TV sets are hitting reviewer's desks and store shelves now,” he added.

HDTV Test, a hi-def review site based in the U.K., reported Sunday that Netflix 4K streaming appeared to be up and running on a new Samsung HU8500 4K test the publication was testing, noting that streams were encoded at about 15.6 Mbps.

“To our eyes, the [2160 HD] layer did not look visibly more detailed than the [1080 HD] one in this fairly dark scene,” HDTV Test noted. “Where the 4K version did shine was with bright, colourful scenes.”

In January at International CES, Netflix announced it would launch a 4K streaming app on new sets from Sony, LG Electronics, Vizio and Samsung Electronics that can decode those signals without specialized, separate streaming devices. At the time, Netflix did note that its initial 4K offering would launch sometime in the spring. The company didn’t say how much contnet would grace its Ultra HD library early on, but Netflix did say that season two of House Of Cards, other new Netflix originals, as well as Breaking Bad would eventually be offered in the 4K format.

“There will be a lot of content,” Reed Hastings, Netflix’s CEO, promised during his appearance at the LG press conference at CES.

Word that Netflix had begun to test 4K streaming emerged last November.

With new 4K models about to launch, other 4K streaming apps should follow. Comcast, for example, is working on a 4K VOD app that will debut this year on new Samsung 4K TVs and deliver that content over the customer’s high-speed Internet connection.

At a demo in February that coincided with the Sochi Games, Comcast showed 4K/Ultra HD VOD clips running on its QAM video network to a curved, 55-inch Samsung 4K TV, and an IP version running over its DOCSIS 3.0 network to a 20-inch Panasonic tablet. Comcast estimated at the time that the 4K IP video stream was coming in at between 18 Mbps to 22 Mbps.