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Netflix to launch 4K streaming service within two years

Video streaming service Netflix could be readying itself for a launch of a new service bringing 4K films and TV shows to its subscribers.

In an interview with tech website The Verge, Netflix’s chief product officer Neil Hunt said that far from ultra high-definition being to big to pump down an internet connection, streaming would ‘be the best way to get the 4K picture into people’s homes’.

“That’s because of the challenges involved in upgrading broadcast technologies and the fact that it isn’t anticipated within the Blu-ray disc standard,” said Hunt.

Read more about NetflixHe added that there was ‘much work to do’ with the compression and decode capability, but said that Netflix expected ‘to be delivering 4K within a year or two with at least some movies and then over time become an important source of 4K.’

Hunt added that a large chunk of footage for its US remake of the BBC’s House of Cards was shot in 4K but then later mastered in HD. Hunt said that some encoding in 4K of the programme would be done ‘later this year’.

He said that while the pixel count or resolution has gone up over the last thrity years from VHS to DVD to HD and finally 4K, the industry has been slow to adopt higher frame rate (HFR), a format pioneered by Peter Jackson with The Hobbit.

He said that HFR was ‘a much more significant way to make a better quality picture for consumers to enjoy’.

“I would love to see the industry get to 60p as a routine standard for shooting material in the first place, instead of the exception,” he told the Verge.

Hunt said Ultra-HD allowed for higher frame rates of up to 120 frames per second (120p). But he admitted that the industry had a lot of work to do to make frame rates match the quality of pixel resolution.

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