Netflix questions the value of HD video
February 11, 2010
Only one in 12 Netflix customers subscribe to its Blu-ray service, and high-definition video makes up just 6 percent of the company’s total streaming catalog. That makes high-definition technology “underwhelming,” Netflix said last week.
For all the marketing dollars thrown behind HD, Blu-ray is still a marginal technology when compared to DVD. Its obsolescence is taking longer than many expected. That less than 10 percent of Netflix subscribers opt for the Blu-ray option isn’t that surprising, Netflix said.
Users of the PS3 and Xbox game consoles have one in 17 titles available in HD, and it’s streamed in 720p, not in 1080p and not in 5.1 surround sound. That said, Netflix is wrestling with two inevitabilities: HD content will eventually supplant SD content, and physical media for video will die. Netflix said it knows this and is preparing for the future.
However, currently Netflix is choosing customer expansion over video quality — something the company says that most customers don’t notice. Netflix said that while 1080p isn’t slated for this year, it does expect to launch 5.1 surround-sound and closed-captioning online within the year.