Video Encoding and Framerate Info for Netflix Streaming

Posted by Dave Cowl on November 20, 2008 
Filed Under: Downloads, Format War, Netflix, Netflix Streaming

In an interesting move, Netflix has opted to present their encoding strategy for Netflix Streaming on their Official Netflix Blog this month.

If you are like me, you will skip directly to the HD content section to see what they are offering.

They say that they are currently offering 400 streams in 720p quality. Frame rates are 24 fps for movies (which makes a lot of sense) and 30 fps for video sourced content, which would likely require deinterlacing prior to encoding.

They say that they want to save bandwidth at this stage – so it makes sense to stick with 720p 24 fps or 30 fps – which are roughly half the pixel rate of 1080p24 and 1080i respectively.

The encoder they are using is essentially the VC-1 codec that is also used for some Blu-ray Discs – though the bitrates of 2.6 to 3.8 Mbps is around 8 times less than a typical Blu-ray Disc encode. I would expect to see some artifacting at those bitrates, even with the reduced pixel rate.

Neflix says themselves that these encodes “won’t challenge well-executed Blu-ray encodes”.

That is not to say that they are settling – Netflix is aiming for better as Broadband rates improve.

On the audio side it is a little disappointing to see that they will not have 5.1 audio – however they appear to be pretty well locked into the Microsoft DRM model, so something will have to change in order for them to deliver multichannel – again they are working on it.

All in all it sounds like a good effort to at least deliver a performance superior to DVD, though it sounds like there needs to be quite an improvement in infrastructure, etc., to meet Blu-ray quality.

Still, for some titles, perhaps this will be seen as good enough by many…

Related posts:

  1. New Xbox Experience: Netflix and XBLVM Info
  2. TiVo Joins the Netflix Streaming Club
  3. HD Netflix Streaming Rolls Out With New Xbox Experience
  4. Netflix HD Streaming To Hit A Slew Of Devices
  5. Best Buy Shows Off Samsung BD-P2550 Netflix Streaming


4 Responses to “Video Encoding and Framerate Info for Netflix Streaming”

  1. webdev511 on November 20th, 2008 7:32 am

    While it’s not 1080p and lossless, those specs aren’t bad for hd streaming and I agree that it’s a good step above DVD.

    Are they sourcing from 1080p video and loss less audio and down sampling?

  2. Dave Cowl on November 20th, 2008 11:13 am

    They didn’t say explicitly but I imagine that they are downsampling – there was mention of delivery on D5, which is ‘lightly compressed’ HD video though not tied to any specific resolution iirc.

    Since they are streaming a format that is not standard to other products I would be surprised if the studios took on the burden of downsampling.

  3. Ryan on November 20th, 2008 7:10 pm

    I don’t know if I’m alone on this, but it’s good to see a company releasing information like this, even though it makes folks like us say ‘but…’ I appreciate the honesty from a large company pushing a product – that’s rare, and probably says something about NetFlix.

    I wondered how they were getting their HD content as well, I would assume it’s DVD, processed into the higher resolution though; can you ‘downsample’ a BD? I thought streaming was against it’s format specs? A form of DRM?

    Nice find, Dave!

  4. Ryan on November 20th, 2008 7:11 pm

    Originally Posted By Dave Cowl
    Since they are streaming a format that is not standard to other products I would be surprised if the studios took on the burden of downsampling.

    Didn’t see this part; makes sense.

Feel free to leave a comment...If you have not commented before, your comment will be held for moderation.
and oh, if you want an Avatar to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!