Netflix to turn to H.265, of HEVC, to solve 4K bandwidth puzzle, and to further reduce bandwidth for existing content
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Netflix's Chief Product Officer has revealed that in the streaming giant's push to deliver 4K content efficiently, existing content may also re-encoded using a more efficient algorithm to reduce bandwidth requirements.
In an interview with Stuff, Netflix's Neil Hunt explained that the company plans to use H.265, or HEVC, to deliver 4K content at a reasonable bitrate. With 4K content having four times as much data as current 1080p HD content, many fear Netflix would not be able to successfully deliver 4K content to anyone other than those with fiber based super speed broadband.
However, the advent of a new encoding technology in HEVC will dramatically reduce the bandwidth needed for 4K.
"We're pushing forward with new encoding technology – we'll be using H.265, which is colloquially known as HEVC, instead of AVC H.264. We think with that we're going to be delivering in the 10-16Mbps range – about 15Mbps is probably what we should think of," Hunt told Stuff.
In lab tests, HEVC has proven to be incredibly efficient at delivering 4K content, even at bitrates as low as 5 Mbps, and under 1 Mbps for animated content.
The use of HEVC could also help those not ready to invest in 4K. Hunt explains that as HEVC matures as a platform, existing HD Netflix content, and even standard def streams, could all be re-encoded in the new format.
"And so, when we start to see those HEVC decoders get real, and the encoders get more efficient, we're going to be able to recode all the HD content – and the standard-def content, for that matter – in HEVC," Hunt explains. "So people with a 2 Mbps DSL will be able to receive a better picture than they do today."