Now that 4K is firmly established as the next big TV advancement, high dynamic range is just over the horizon. HDR technology gives UHD programs vibrant colors and striking contrast, but recording or mastering programs with HDR isn't standard practice just yet. Netflix hopes to change that, with a new commitment to high-profile HDR content over the next year. But that commitment might not be great for your bandwidth.
Engadget reported Netflix's new strategy, which vice president Chris Jaffe revealed at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona. The company is eager to implement HDR in its original shows. As such, it plans to remaster the first season of Marco Polo with HDR, and the second season of Daredevil will premiere with the colorful technology already in place.
UHD and HDR content often go hand-in-hand, and while Netflix did not specify exactly how many HDR programs it will debut, it did give some 4K programming numbers. In 2016, the company hopes to host more than 600 hours of UHD video, which seems like a reasonable goal, given that it plans to launch 30 shows and 10 original movies this year.
However, resolution and color accuracy come at a cost, and even the best compression algorithms can do only so much. To experience 4K HDR Netflix content, Jaffe explained that users will need to have somewhere between 16 and 20 Mbps of bandwidth. While this is easily (albeit expensively) accomplished in some parts of the United States, it's an absolute impossibility in others; the national average Internet speed hovers around 12.6 Mbps, and tends to increase by less than 1 Mbps per year.
Netflix will also improve its Android and iOS apps, adding second-screen Chromecast feature on the former and an auto-play option on the latter. Since there's no phone or tablet with 4K HDR support yet, though, Netflix's bigger innovations will have to remain in the world of TVs and computers for now.