Netflix Dynamically Adjusts Bitrates to Match 4K Content

(Image credit: Netflix)

LOS GATOS, Calif.—Netflix has developed algorithms that dynamically adjust the bitrate to match the content being streamed by viewers.

The idea is that if a viewer watches 4K or HDR content, the bitrate drops. The company describes this process as “optimized shot-based encodes” for 4K.

The blog gives an example of a 4K animation title episode, where a 640×480 encoding resolution is paired with a 4:3 PAR to achieve 16:9 DAR.

According to Netflix, the new process will enable it to reduce the average bitrate by 50% with no loss in image quality. It adds that viewers who have a limited bandwidth will also get a better image quality.

It also adds that the number of rebuffers per hour is expected to reduce by over 65%; while the reduced bitrate together with some Digital Rights Management (DRM) system improvements result in reducing the initial play delay by about 10%.

Netflix said it has started re-encoding the 4K titles in its catalog in order to generate the optimized streams and expects to complete the process in a couple of months. The streamer continues to work on applying similar optimizations to its HDR streams.

The blog goes into the process in much more detail.

Jenny Priestley

Jenny has worked in the media throughout her career, joining TVBEurope as editor in 2017. She has also been an entertainment reporter, interviewing everyone from Kylie Minogue to Tom Hanks; as well as spending a number of years working in radio. She continues to appear on radio every week and occasionally pops up on TV.