Netflix now ‘testing Ultra-HD’, dumping 3D

House of Cards

House of Cards

Netflix, already with more than 29 million ‘full and active’ subs in the US, and a total of more than 40 million when international viewers are included, is now testing 4K Ultra-HD delivery, albeit at a modest frame rate.

Subscribers to Netflix can view the test footage of movie clips ahead of a formal service introduction in 2014. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has made no secret of his plans to add 4K movies sooner rather than later. The OTT broadcaster has also linked with Ultra-HDTV display manufacturer Samsung to promote and demonstrate 4K movies.

Peter Nowak, of blog-site Macleans, met with Netflix’s chief product officer Neil Hunt on October 31st, and while some topics were off the record, Hunt confirmed that Netflix is currently shooting the second season of House of Cards in 4K. “The company is looking to add the higher-resolution content to its offerings in the first half of 2014,” said Nowak, adding that Hunt said Netflix would not be adding to its portfolio of 3D content.

Nowak quotes Hunt saying he believes Netflix can be the source of 4K content, since people won’t necessarily want to buy new devices to play discs or upgrade their libraries to another new format. “It seems to me that this time it’s internet delivery,” Hunt says. “We [Internet video] are often perceived as the last game in town, the scratchy video in 380p, but here we can really leapfrog to the front. I’d like to win a technical Emmy for delivery.”

Hunt is upbeat about data caps in general — his own US provider recently upped his 250 GB limit to 300 GB. With caps moving in the right direction, that should give networks some time to adjust to what will at first be a trickle of 4K content. “It’s not like we go overnight from no 4K to everything 4K,” he told Nowak.

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