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Netflix to Stream 'House of Cards' in 4K to Select Smart TVs This Spring

Netflix 4K4K is pretty much “the next big thing,” like it or not. Of course, for 4K to really mesmerize you in your living room, there will need to be both UHD TVs and 4K content available — eventually. As far as the content side of things goes, Netflix is taking 4K delivery very seriously. And while widespread availability of true ultra-high def media is going to take some time, you may not have to wait nearly as long for select Netflix presentations in 4K. In fact, if you own one of a select few types of smart TVs, you may be watching the second season of House of Cards in 4K this coming Spring.

Netflix made its flagship venture into original content with the David Fincher-helmed pilot of House of CardsSince then, it has released the popular Orange is the New Black, the revival of the cult hit Arrested Development, and a slew of others. Given that it “attribute[s] some of its impressive growth to [the] successful and critically acclaimed original show,” it’s no wonder why Netflix has chosen House of Cards to mark another quantum leap forward. The first question, of course, is “how?”

According to Stuff:

The streaming service will be offering 4K programming through smart TV apps available on the next generation of 4K TVs, Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt tells Stuff. “We’re not naming specific manufacturers, but we have several of the major TV vendors who are going to be producing 4K capable TVs – they’ll be announcing them at CES,” he says.

Part of the decision to pipe the media into UHD smart TVs directly has to do with the apparent shortcomings of devices like the Xbox One and ‘PS4K‘ (R.I.P. – kinda). According to Netflix’s Hunt, those consoles simply aren’t there yet in terms of 4K, though they may be eventually. In the meantime, albeit on comparatively few smart TVs (no word yet on which ones exactly), Netflix is moving ahead. The second question, given bandwidth restrictions and internet connection speeds, is once again, “How?”

Netflix - House of CardsThe answer is HEVC, a.k.a. H.265, the “next generation” video compression format. To put it simply, HEVC is able to provide comparable quality to an H.264 encoding with half the bitrate. In a follow-up on Stuff, Hunt says that “the benefits [of HEVC] trickle down,” so in addition to reasonable 4K, 1080 HD can be delivered more efficiently while those with lower-speed broadband can access higher quality media than they could before. He says Netflix is expecting 4K media to run somewhere in the 10-16 Mbps range, probably right around 15 Mbps.

HEVC will most certainly help, but as The Verge points out, Netflix’s own ISP speed index ranks Google Fiber in the US with the highest speed rating at 3.59 Mbps, amongst an overall US average of 1.90 Mbps. It’s important to note that these figures quantify “prime time performance rankings” in accessing Netflix specifically. If these numbers are accurate, though, it will certainly be interesting to see whether the second House of Cards season makes it 4K debut without a hitch. Netflix’s success could be substantial in the push for the 4K living room.

Apparently Netflix is planning on delivering other titles in 4K this Spring as well, but none have been named as of yet.


[via The Verge]


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Description image 73 COMMENTS

  • 4k is overrated. While I do like it far more than the 3D marketing push of yesteryear, it’s still another marketing ploy–a very smart one mind you, but overkill for most people most of the time–all of the amazingly beautiful films you saw on DVD were standard def…we as filmmakers should focus on telling compelling stories. Arri has the right philosophy here. Focus beyond pixel density. Cant wait for HOC season 2!

  • We can barely get Netflix to play three quality levels lower than HD any more via comcast, not sure how 4K is going to work…

    • It will work because it will be a slow roll out which will allow them the time to scale and perfect the service. I’m sure the same thing was said when Netflix first rolled out their streaming service. You have to start somewhere and if they started after everyone had 4K TVs then they would be behind the game.

  • Can’t wait to see how few people utilize this.

  • Henri De Vreese on 12.28.13 @ 5:28PM

    Are those internet speeds accurate? You only get 4mbs max with Netflix?
    What’s the use of having 100mb/s internet speeds when Netflix can only use 4? :(
    Was really considering a few Netflix giftcards to give for newyear… (and would also have picked one up for myself)
    4K is not overrate IMO, it’s giving a better image for your audience at the resolution you shot it at.
    Now let’s hope the industry finaly delivers 4K.

  • Seiki 4K 50″ tv price has gone even lower right now, $699.99, from Sears. That is less than half the original price when released less than 1 year ago at $1499.99, and thousands less than Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic:

    Seiki 4K 39″ tv also lower price right now, $499.99,from Sears too:

    • Jorge Cayon on 12.28.13 @ 11:37PM

      Have you seen the picture on Seiki? It’s nothing to brag about.

      • I’m not bragging. I never said it is excellent. But it is not as bad as a few people are making it out to be. Let’s keep it in perspective. The Seiki will be a great, affordable 4K tv/4K computer monitor for most people. I did not say it should be used for high end editing and other things of professional nature. This post is about viewing 4K tv shows. The Seiki is an excellent option for that. Let’s try to keep things fair!

        • All right, we’ll be able to watch 4K on a shitty monitor! But at least it’s 4K, as long as it has loads of Ks who cares about the monitor! 4K would look amazing on a regular standard def tv, because Ks equal quality.

          • You don’t know what you’re talking about muh. You are a rude stalker, you are rude for the sake of being rude.

          • No, it’s a a stupid argument. Acting like 4K is the ultimate and then ignoring what you watch it on. But Ks are Ks, right?

            Not stalking you, it’s just hard not to miss your constant 4K posts in every thread.

          • They are not in every thread Muh. Control yourself. Stop lying.

          • And yes, you are stalking me. You have some kind of hang up with progress and you have singled me out as the one you want to express your personal feeling about it on. GO AWAY FROM ME AND DO IT TO SOMEONE ELSE.

          • No problem with progress. It’s just every tech thread there you are, 4K 4K 4K. And it’s hard to miss your posts because they’re CONSTANT.

          • They stand out to YOU because YOU have a problem with 4K. Do you see that?

          • Do you see anyone else following me around this blog other than you???? You are a stalker. PLEASE FOCUS ON SOMEONE ELSE!

          • Who’s stalking, you’re the one responding to words I write. I don’t replay to every post you make. Just ignore the single posts I make and be on your way.

          • You are making it a point to follow me around—you are STALKING! STOP DOING IT

        • Get a room.

  • The real news is the encoding: if Netflix can half the amount of data coming down the pipes then even people on the craptastic Comast networks will get decent pictures most of the time with 1040p or 720p.

  • This really is quite incredible. Can’t wait to see what they can do.

    This really reminds me of this.

    Guess it’s happening within a year of writing this.

    “So is 4K the future? Yes it definitely is. Is it here today? Well sort of, but not really. Netflix / iTunes in 4K? Sure, in 2030. Is 4K necessary for me to make movies? Absolutely not. Is 4K right for me? That’s really the question at the heart of this debate, and only you can answer it.”

    Whoops. I mean I still get this point. More and more does that article scream.

    “We’re Extremely Late, we’re trying to save face and still sell the camera we know is probably outdated already since we’re 3 years late on delivery.”

    After working with 4K, and see it and it’s benefits I wouldn’t take a step backwards personally, but understand why some may not want to use it. With Seiki TV’s coming down in price, everyone else will with how much faster things are moving now. 4K isn’t like 3D. I’m glad I made sure I could upgrade as necessary with systems I acquired. Tons of great HD content out there, and still coming out, but man I can’t help but remember this article and feel bad for DB customers.

    • The next wave of 4K tvs is coming out in Spring. There will be lower prices with a better picture, especially in the area of upscaling. And there will be a few more manufacturers offering 4K sets too. But upscaling is not just an issue in the tv. Upscaling will also be an issue in the DVD player itself since they will have to be able to play 4K, BluRay, and regular DVDs. If the DVD player upscales everything at a high quality and sends it to the tv then upsclaing in the tv (for DVDs, the most important reason people buy higher resolution tvs, along with gaming) becomes a non-issue.

  • These kids talking about Seiki tvs…. have you actually run content on them? I have and there is a reason they are so cheap. Poor bit depth and color, horrible luminosity problems, atrocious motion artifacts on bluray never mind 4k sources… worthless.

    I’m no Sony fan boy but the xbr850 is worth $3k if you see a seiki TV in person.

    • I don’t own one. Had a friend get one that edits 5K material on it though and he did have to do quite a bit to it to get it running and look better.

    • Gene

      please contact the “kids” at Red. They use them.

      • Greg egan, typo.

      • Some comments from Red about them: “We got a truck load of these delivered to the studio today.” They also make it clear they are not the best made tvs–but they cost only 1200.00. They did order a truck load of them. So there clearly are uses for them.

        And for watching tv, which is what this post is about, (you did see that this post is about watching 4K tv shows before commenting? or did you just assume my linking of Seiki tvs in the post meant that Seiki tvs should be used for all things 4K at all times?) it is not about sophisticated editing—please try to keep the context of the post in mind– this tv is just fine. It is even fine for the average computer user. Again, the context of this post is 4K tv viewing. That is why I linked the very low cost of the Seiki tvs.

    • Here’s a 1hour, 20 minute review of the Seiki tv. They mention nothing “atrocious” about the tv.

    • One of the main things that sets a cheap display apart from an expensive display isn’t the actual LCD panel itself (that’s typically a yield difference), but rather the scalers that ship with it…which means you need to send it a native resolution signal or the image will look like crap due to the cheap scalers. Better to feed it a 4k signal from a computer and let the GPU upscale blu-rays and other content…and obviously best to feed it actual 4k content.

  • Anthony Marino on 12.28.13 @ 11:48PM

    I’ve read the FCC wants a hundred million homes to have affordable 50+ Mbps by 2015. Something’s going on, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

    • I’m trying to see why gigabit internet isn’t catching on faster in America, especially in the more densely populated areas. It is 734MB down and 730MB up. The fiber optic lines for it haven’t even been strung in the silicon valley yet. I know because I live near silicon valley. Odd that. I don’t think they’d have a dearth of customers in silicon valley. I’ve driven around and been to the Steven Creek Mall, and Santana Row, and seen the money (and ever so slightly no shortage of fricking GREAT looking girls).

      • Because this goes to the heart of the 4K argument…it’s not that 4K is bad, it’s that are people going to pay lots more for it? No they aren’t. Peopel who fast internet and it works for them aren’t going to pay more for faster internet if it doesn’t seem like a real benefit…If Netflix streams fine and email works, then the internet is good. Why pay more for better speed if you’re not going to use it?

        • Gigabit internet was around before 4K started growing fast. They are not connected at the hip. And gigabit internet is $70.00 a month where it is currently available. It is less than the highest speed internet now. There’s every reason in the internet that faster internet is needed. You don’t know what you’re doing Muh.

        • You actually think gigablt internet has come about because of 4K, sheesh!!!!!!

          • Where did I say that? For the average user, not the technonerd, their regular internet works fine for them. unless downloading tons of pirated porn.

          • “Because this goes to the heart of the 4K argument”

            I was talking about gigabit internet and you say that. It came from you, that’s where that came from. Pay attention to even yourself.

          • People will always want something better. They could be offered internet that is 90 times faster download and 260 times faster upload and costs less than the best internet available to them now—and they won’t want it? Really?

          • Genius, I’m saying that people aren’t necessarilly going to rush to buy a 4K tv when their 1080 looks great. Just like they’re not buying crazy fast internet speeds when their speeds are fine as is. Does it stream their Netflix and get their email? Yep. Done. This si why 4K may not be that game changer you think it is. People just onvested in new HDTVs, they’re not going to toss them for a 4K way more expensive monitor.

          • To your second point in terms of cost…if it costs LESS, sure they’ll take the cheaper internet, why not? If it costs more…maybe maybe not. Then they’ll have to consider if it’s worth it.

          • IT DOES COST LESS! Step away from your computer, go into the real world, and take a look at what is going on.

          • Gigabit internet isn’t everywhere. Just because you read about it in tech blogs doesn’t mean it’s easy to buy.

          • Man, you are not paying attention. You really are not.


          • They have lists of places you can buy Gigabit internet. It’s not everywhere…hence, we dont’ know what the real world market is for it yet.

        • 1080p tvs cost more than SD tvs at one time. SD tvs are now gone. 4K will become VERY popular and just as affordable as 1080p. Step away from your computer and go out into the real world and see what is happening there.

          • Of course the difference is in the OBVIOUS jump in quality between a standard tv and HD. But if the regular person can’t see a huge difference between 1080 and 4K…or they see a difference but it’s sort of marginal…are they going to pay way more for a tv? Why would they?

          • You don’t have a particular fondness for staying in contact with the real world, do you.

          • Yeah Gene, in the real world my next door neighbor is BEMOANING the lack of 4K to watch her DVDs on.

          • STOP STALKING ME

          • Henri De Vreese on 12.29.13 @ 4:32AM

            Then just change your name Gene… Muh might stop if he doesn’t know it is you.
            But seriously Gene, we all know it already stop moaning about it…

          • Gene your an idiot. You call Muh out on things youve misunderstood, insult him and when he responds you cry “stop stalking me”. Its pathetic.

          • You do not understand Chris. He has been following me around in several threads. He seems to have a neurosis for me.

          • And BTW chris, what is it I’m misunderstanding?

          • I’m talking about gigabit internet and he says gigabit internet is the heart of 4K. Nowhere in that comment did I even hint at 4K. That’s my misunderstanding? Or is it his neurotic behavior over 4K? He sees 4K everywhere. And apparently he has chosen me to express his 4K neurosis on. This thread it not the first time Muh has expressed his anti-4K obsession in.

          • Henri De Vreese

            My comments about him stopping stalking me are not because of what he has said in this thread. It would be silly if it was. He is developing a history of following me in this blog and it is past the point being an annoyance that you can just ignore and move on from. It and has turned into stalking.

          • Gene has a very high opinion of himself if he thinks someone wants to stalk his boring ass.

            I’d be stalking you, Gene, if I only posted in threads you posted in, and only posted to you. I don’t. Stop being a whiny baby.

        • If people can afford to buy the quality 4K TVs, they can afford to pay for faster internet. Early adopters usually have enough money to afford all the bells and whistles their new tech requires to operate properly. I pay $70 a month for comcast (I hate them as much as everyone else) and I get up to 58mbps down and 10mbps up pretty consistently and netflix streams “superHD” fine. I’d imagine that if I had a 4K TV, it would play fine.

          Also, keep in mind that the show being streamed in 4K is house of cards which is basically their flagship show, so it’s more symbolic of their future plans than anything else.

          • Right, but usually the arguments in these threads is 4K is coming TOMORROW and everyone’s going to be using it. I’m not talking about early adopters, I’m talking about the regular people who aren’t going to see the point of paying several thousand dollars more to replace the HDTV they just bought, which looks somewhat better. It’s not going from SD to HD, it’s going from HD to better HD. And faster internet is going to go from internet which is serving people just fine to a faster internet, where maybe they can’t tell the difference. Early adopters and tech heads aren’t enough, they didn’t make Laserdisc work.

    • I posted this on some other 4K related tread – my cable company (not Comcast) is offering 30 Mbps for $40/mo and that’s their second cheapest tier (3, 30, 75, 100). TW has speeds up to 100 Mbps. Comcast the $40 bundle via Infinity at 25 and that also includes TV and other free-be’s. I’d double check the numbers quoted because there was a recent report from Akamai on the “State of the Internet”. I quote from the CNN piece (full report is available on Akamai’s own site), ” The United States fell from 8th to 9th after being passed by Sweden in the first quarter of this year, according to networking firm Akamai’s quarterly State of the Internet report. Akamai handles about one-third of the world’s Web traffic. The slip comes despite average U.S. speeds going up 27% from the same time last year, according to Akamai. …. Akamai reported that the average Web connection in the United States was 8.6 megabits per second.”

  • I’ve seen humongous 100″ plus UHDTVs popping out in stores everywhere, but nah, I’ll wait for the real 4K (not UHDTV) displays with higher pixel density retina-like screens around 42″ or 50″. It’s not all about the resolution, I also care about better colors and contrast.

  • And there’s this, posted in late November (I saw it on CNet too) – “New data has revealed that literally dozens of countries host faster download speeds then the United States. American internet speeds on average were recorded at around 20.74 Mbps in peak times, limping far behind connection trailblazers like Hong Kong, Singapore and Romania who have speeds of 71.22 Mbps, 52.75 Mbps and 50.26 Mbps respectively. –
    Of course, resolution isn’t everything. Dolby Labs are working on improving the brightness and the dynamic range of TV’s.- “There are three aspects to the picture that Dolby hopes to improve: Brightness, contrast, and color… To showcase its tech, Dolby built a prototype television. Based on its broadcast monitor, it’s essentially a local-dimming backlight LCD on steroids. Where the $40,000 broadcast monitor has 4,500 individually addressable red, green, and blue LEDs, this prototype has 18,000 , and each one is addressable. To put that in perspective, top-of-the-line LED LCDs on the market now have a few hundred, and they are definitely not individually addressable.”

  • According to the TV Engineer I spoke with this week the H.265 push is coming from the cable industry, they are trying to squeeze SD content into a narrower bandwidth. If what he says is true, 4k is coming faster than we think folks. Who else to fill the 4k void of content than the us independents?

    • … ¨than we the independents¨ Self policing I am…

      • And that’s actual 4K TV rather than 4K internet streaming bandied with the Netflix service. One factor not brought up in this thread is that a set-top box that Intel was thinking of offering with its own programming/distribution is still the most viable concept for the cable industry. That way, they go to an unlimited channel universe while still being able to control the choke points.
        PS. I also wonder whom Netflix is thinking of partnering with. Sony and LG have been offering a free 1 year Netflix subscription with a smart TV purchase, though Sony has a 4K streaming service of its own.

  • so it looks like google fiber offers a FREE internet option which gives speeds up to 5mbps. that must be what weights the average down to 3.59.

    its a bit weird to me that netflix uses such heavily weighed down “average” statistics, since their own service doesn’t really apply to anyone in that bottom tier.

  • That you allow it to be appear to be easy along with your powerpoint presentation on the other hand discover this matter to become actually something that I consider I will by no means have an understanding of. This indicates also sophisticated and huge in my situation. My business is having a look to your current subsequent create, I will try and learn them!

  • Unless you have a television >70″, 4k is negligible. This won’t work in NYC.

  • Have any of you actually seen Netflix’s so-called 1080p service? It’s nothing to write home about, folks. Compression problems up the wazoo. It’s not consistent either, but rather scales to the network traffic and can sometimes fall to less than DVD quality in the span of a program. I have 50 Mbps internet.

    And the audio is far from lossless Blu-ray quality. In fact, it sounds through my surround system like they sometimes use low bitrate MP3 audio, not even DVD grade lossy, through they pump the final product out using Dolby Digital.

    House of Cards, their bread n butter original series, looked pretty bad on their regular tier system.

    I think 4k is a marketing ploy for Netflix and will have to truly bring their A game.

    DirecTV, Dish, OTA, and the cable companies claim to output 720p and 1080i, but its the heavy compression that kills it.

  • Sylvia D. Shields on 08.23.14 @ 4:35AM

    Great article Dave. For those who live outside US like me, you can access Netflix, Hulu and similar media stations on your LG Smart TV by using UnoTelly or similar tools.