Amazon has become the first major SVOD outfit to offer HDR (High Dynamic Range) streaming, beating Netflix to the race to offer the next best thing in terms of video quality improvements.
Amazon will be offering HDR versions of its original series 'Mozart in the Jungle' to its subscribers, at no additional cost, starting June 24. Only subscribers with HDR capable UHD TVs will be able to access the enhanced quality streams.
HDR works by increasing the brightness range between the darkest object in a scene and the brightest. The brightness is measured in "nits", and modern televisions, including standard 4K sets, can offer up to 500 nits of brightness. With a HDR capable set, this is increased to 1000 nits. HDR sets will need content encoded to be able to take advantage of the increased dynamic range, which is what Amazon is offering via Mozart in the Jungle' for the first time.
Cinematic experts Dolby is even working on a HDR system for the cinema that is capable of going all the way to 10,000 nits.
Beating Netflix to the HDR punch also represents a significant coup for Amazon, as previously, even Netflix has acknowledged how important HDR is for improved picture quality, even more so than the move to 4K resolution.
"With 4K, there are enough pixels on the screen that your eyeball can't really perceive any more detail, so now the quest for more realism turns into, can we put better pixels on the screen? I think that’s actually a more important quality improvement to get to the brightness and detail in the picture than the 4K is by itself," said Neil Hunt, chief product officer at Netflix.
Amazon, expectedly, expressed their delight at being the first to offer HDR streaming.
"HDR is a technical innovation that provides a truly stunning viewing experience, and we’re thrilled to be the first to offer this unmatched picture quality," Michael Paull, VP of digital video at Amazon, said in a statement.