Netflix cuts 4K bitrate in half, promises same 4K quality video

Andrew1472

Distinguished Member
I genuinely thought someone had posted old news about the COVID bitrate cut!
I suppose we have to give them the benefit of the very considerable doubt, but it’s very, very sad.
Where Netflix leads others will follow.:(
 

lgans316

Distinguished Member
When I am slowing going digital and this happens. I am now worried if iTunes will follow suit as they offer the best quality.
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
Luckily I don’t pay for my Netflix access, or I would be tempted to walk if the quality drop is that pronounced. It doesn’t surprise me though. More subscribers equals more demand and load, so anything to reduce the burden, even if it means that Joe or Josephine Customer get a poorer service, is going to be fine, because Netflix knows that the vast majority of its subscribers don’t really care about quality, just the content.

Streaming has always been a compressed, compromised mess. We shouldn’t be that surprised. Very disappointing though. Physical media will certainly look much better, just at the time when disc players are slowly being killed off ...
 

richp007

Distinguished Member
I'm still physical media over digital, always will be.

This is a bad move though, but I only sign up for 2/3 months of the year anyway so will just have to live with it.
 

kenshingintoki

Distinguished Member
I'll always go physical where possible. Netflix's streaming algorithm is god damn impressive; not going to lie and cos their film is newly filmed, its always razer sharp. I think for bright content it will be fine but darker scenes are going to take a big hit with this move.
 

Trollslayer

Distinguished Member
Just reencoding, even with the same codec and settings, will degrade the content.
Hopefully not much.
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
Watched an HD film on Netflix last night. When I checked I was getting 5.49mbit, but the oicture was really grainy. Could have been the source material, perhaps.
 

lgans316

Distinguished Member
Watched an HD film on Netflix last night. When I checked I was getting 5.49mbit, but the oicture was really grainy. Could have been the source material, perhaps.

Many movies are shot on film which means grain is a part of it. Some film stocks have softer / fine grain whilst some are thick grain.
 

GrazzaB

Distinguished Member
Streaming has always been a compressed, compromised mess. We shouldn’t be that surprised. Very disappointing though. Physical media will certainly look much better, just at the time when disc players are slowly being killed off ...

I agree that this doesn’t sound great and sets a bit of a worrying precedent, but my goodness streaming has not always been a compressed, compromised mess. We always have this debate between people who seem to think all streaming is like Game of Thrones on Sky, and people who have actually seen and enjoyed superb quality 4k content on Apple’s service for a fraction of the price of discs. And I say that as someone who buys more discs than I probably should!
 
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Trollslayer

Distinguished Member
Streaming has always been compressed and there has always been compromises.
Also the compression methods have been changed and technically improved but then we have customers wanting the holy trinity - lots of good content, perfect image quality and a low price.
For best quality I will always go to disc, for good quality I will pay for a decent service with good content.
 

Purperen

Well-known Member
It's interesting that Netflix have a new compression method that they say drastically reduces the bit-rate without compromising the quality of their 4K streams. But, rather than choosing to up 4K quality but keeping it at the previous bit-rate and provide an even better service, they have chosen to reduce the bit-rate and just keep the image quality the same as it already is.

Perhaps they might like to now scrap the 4K premium subscription surcharge and provide 4K quality at the stand HD subscription fee, seeing as they are streaming 4K and HD at similar bit-rates? That would be only fair, wouldn't it? I wouldn't hold my breath though.
 

Trollslayer

Distinguished Member
It is the existing code (coder/decoder) with changes rather than an all new.
I expect new content to be as good as existing content, just using less bandwidth.
Re encoding will will have some effect, it how much we need to wait and see.
The alternative is to stay as things are with Netflix getting overloaded or not accepting new customers.
 

lgans316

Distinguished Member
I have done re-encoding using Handbrake. Its okay if you have smaller screens but on big ones its artifact galore. Unless Netflix is using a way superior codec I don't fully trust this would work.
 

shelfsider

Active Member
🤦‍♂️ I'm getting grief about mine still being cancelled off the back of the ludicrous restrictions in the summer so with Discovery coming back thought I'd have a check on the situation and see this.
Think I might be getting even more grief!
 

Trollslayer

Distinguished Member
I have done re-encoding using Handbrake. Its okay if you have smaller screens but on big ones its artifact galore. Unless Netflix is using a way superior codec I don't fully trust this would work.
Video codecs are notoriously difficult and people who can design and implement are often on the Asperger spectrum so don't underestimate this.
The alternative is that Netflix limit the number of customers they can accept.
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
All well and good, but if PQ and/or SQ do become degraded, will Netflix reduce their monthly fees to compensate? No, of course not. They want to maximise their profits, like any business. They may loose a few customers along the way, but they don’t care because they know that they pretty much have a captive audience. Far better to reduce quality than invest in some extra capacity and deliver a first class viewing experience.
 

Trollslayer

Distinguished Member
The audience is not captive though, there are competitors.
The infrastructure capacity will take time to build up as well.
 

alebonau

Distinguished Member
I notice also some talk they are keeping atmos for only netflix originals ...

... yep probably can hardly find anything above 5.1

will only use for watching B grade stuff I expect in that case...
 

UMAR 3:16

Moderator
Never trust digital. You don’t own it, you have no control for it. That’s the second main issue, the first being of course.... Quality. Why someone who is into AV would compromise on this aspect is really not relatable to me. The average consumer yes but an AV enthusiast?!
P.S before anyone says the quality is comparable please... My Blu-ray Discs look better on my 65/77 OLED’s than anything 4K streamed. And thats just video, even bigger difference on the audio end...
 

Trollslayer

Distinguished Member
With Blu ray you can get a peak bit rate of 80Mbit/sec.
Even with FTTP you won't get that because the networks between the content delivery system and your connection there can be bandwidth conflicts.
Streaming for usual viewing, disc for the best quality.
 

lgans316

Distinguished Member
Never trust digital. You don’t own it, you have no control for it. That’s the second main issue, the first being of course.... Quality. Why someone who is into AV would compromise on this aspect is really not relatable to me. The average consumer yes but an AV enthusiast?!
P.S before anyone says the quality is comparable please... My Blu-ray Discs look better on my 65/77 OLED’s than anything 4K streamed. And thats just video, even bigger difference on the audio end...

My 4K iTunes/MoviesAnywhere streams are much better than the Blu-ray. Period.

Of course we don't own it but long term members of iTunes have said they have never seen their purchase disappear and chances of that happening are 1 in a 1000 which is the same as 1 in 1000 discc going bad.

Audio wise, I agree. There is a difference but its simply due to ARC limitation of 1 Mbps which has resulted in streaming providers capping Atmos at 770 Kbps. Once eARC becomes a norm, hopefully we will some jump in audio bit rates which will close the gap on the audio front.

The future is Digital. I used to deny this until couple of months ago but not anymore. Physical media will be there for sure but as a super niche format.

Personally I am okay with buying 15-20 discs a year but anything beyond that is simply not sustainable for me as I hate to see my overflowing cupboards stacked with discs.
 

GrazzaB

Distinguished Member
@lgans316 I agree with you, and I am absolutely an AV enthusiast. I find it incredible that people think the best 4K streams are still sub Blu-ray quality, but equally I don’t think you’ll ever change their minds. The elephant in the room of Blu-ray discs never magically upgrading to a 4K disc on your shelf for free seems to be completely glossed over as well.
 

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