The guys over at Netflix are not letting the incredible growth of 4K pass them by. As many of us have expected, the company is finally testing their ability to deliver 4K content to people’s homes. I actually had a conversation with some people recently about how soon I expect 4K to be come commercially feasible and widespread. And one of the topics was how soon Netflix will adopt 4K as a format that they can deliver to their customers and if these video files are any indication, that answer could be as soon as this year.
By the looks of it, Netflix will not only be supporting 4K, but they will be supporting 4K up to 59 FPS. The current list of available 4K formats is: 24 FPS, 25 FPS (PAL), 29.97 FPS (NTSC), 30 FPS, 50 FPS and 59.94 FPS. These are all based off of the same 59.94 FPS El Fuente video.
With the price of 4K TVs coming down as low as $799 for the already well known Seiki 4K TV, it doesn’t seem that far off to think that we could see pretty wide adoption of 4K as the new HD standard in 2014. This will be especially possible once Hollywood decides on an H.264 (HEVC) codec implementation, once they agree on that, the hardware vendors can start to optimize their decoders and encoders for that codec. This will result in better quality videos as well as lower power consumption when playing back or encoding a 4K video. Since phones like the Galaxy Note 3 are already capable of 4K video at 30 FPS, it would seem pretty reasonable for a company like Netflix to be able to deliver some form of 4K content to their customers, even if it is just a 25 second test clip as of right now.
4K has always been and will always be the future HD standard. 8K will most likely replace 4K pretty quickly, however, 4K will be the catalyst for the new HD movement, much like 720P did for 1080P. This time, I think consumers and OEMs are going to be much more interested in making sure that the content is available to and ready for sale. This is why I believe Sony is going to do well in 4K purely because they have the content already available and their content library is hardware locked to their TVs.