Netflix is going big on 4K but no virtual reality
Netflix is ramping up the production of ultra-high definition 4K and so-called "high dynamic range" (HDR) content this year but the streaming service isn't jumping into virtual reality anytime soon.
Images shot in HDR essentially make the contrast between light and dark colors even more prominent so the white highlights are even brighter. The purpose is to make the image on screen look more realistic. 4K, meanwhile, is a relatively new picture technology used by television manufacturers that quadruples the number of pixels found in a full-HD picture.
Netflix will have 600 hours of 4K content on its platform by the end of the year and the company is also gearing up to launch HDR support. Season 1 of "Marco Polo" and season 2 of "Daredevil" will be the first shows available in HDR.
"Something that's a little bit more out there that we're really excited about is the notion of HDR or high dynamic range," Chris Jaffe, the vice president of user interface innovation at Netflix said during a media briefing at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on Thursday.
"It's less about packing more pixels on the screen like the move from HD to ultra-HD 4K was, it's about extending the total range of those pixels ... what that means is there's a much more photo realistic image that you're watching which is much more representative of the total range that your eye can see when you're just looking around in real life."
Jaffe did not give a specific timeline but said HDR support will launch "later this year."
4K HDR TVs are the next big products that manufacturers are focusing on. Samsung and LG both launched 4K HDR products last year. But they are currently very expensive and there is a lack of HDR content. Samsung told CNBC last year it was working with movie studios and content creators to begin accelerating the drive towards HDR content. Netflix is likely to be a big part of that given its going to spend $5 billion on original programming and licensed content this year.
And Netflix is hoping that HDR TVs will come down in price but Jaffe admitted mass adoption is a few years off yet with 4K products likely to be the next big purchase for consumers.