It takes a beefy internet connection to deliver ultra-high definition 4K video streaming over the web, but that isn’t stopping Netflix. Despite only just enabling “Super HD” video streaming to all connections (that would be 1080p video with minimal compression), Netflix is already turning their sights to the next major boost in resolution to their Instant Streaming service, which promises to deliver video streams in glorious 4096 × 3072 resolution – a significant improvement over the 1920 x 1080 resolution Netflix delivers today.
Though the increased resolution is unlikely to launch anytime soon – Netflix is reportedly currently aiming for a rollout sometime in 2014 – the company has begun layout down the groundwork for testing the enhanced resolution. Netflix has added a total of seven new videos to their Instant Streaming catalogue for the purpose of testing 4k video streaming, one of which – entitled “El Fuente: 24 MP” – describes itself as “an example of 4K at 24 frames per second.”
Though the footage is all simply demo reels and nothing that any of us will actually likely want to sit down and watch with a bowl of popcorn, it does demonstrate that Netflix is actively considering and developing the technologies required to delivering the high resolution content to consumers. Netflix has long been interested in the high resolution video space, with CEO Reed Hastings claiming at a recent earnings call that Netflix is aiming to be a “big supplier” of 4K video instant streaming.
Of course, the change will require more than a simple flick of a switch on Netflix’s part. Because the streaming video would need to be supplied to Netflix in 4k resolution by the contents’ distributors, it will require a corporative effort and collaboration across the entire industry to get content prepared for delivery. There’s always a possibility that Netflix and other distributors could choose to upscale 1080p content as a stopgap measure while native content is in place, but such a solution would provide minimal improvement at best, similar to the experience of playing a DVD in most Blu-Ray players.
With the industry as a whole seeing increased adoption of the 4k video standard in recent days, it could be some time until a considerable amount of consumers have screens capable of displaying 4k resolutions in their living rooms and offices. Still, Netflix’s aggressive pursuing of the standard would guarantee that a proper infrastructure is in place and read for when consumers are ready. The question remains, however – Netflix may be ready, but will your internet connection?