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Netflix reveals plans to improve streams and hog less Internet

by Brandon Russell | December 20, 2015December 20, 2015 8:00 am PDT

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Netflix has learned a lot about streaming since it launched its online video service back in 2007. One of the biggest obstacles it faces now is how to gulp less bandwidth, particularly if it wants to reach developing markets. According to Variety, Netflix has figured out a solution with new technology that ensures streaming will not only hog less data, but offer a more consistently smooth experience.

Variety’s report says Netflix has been working on the new technology for at least four years, with an end goal to allocate different bits to different content. If someone is watching a cartoon, Netflix will use less data to send that video to users, while employing different encoding for something like The Avengers, which is more complex.

Netflix has traditionally treated all content the same, encoding three different versions based on a consumer’s bandwidth needs. Going forward, however, the service will instead apply different rules to different titles, ditching its “one-size-fits-all model,” which the service admitted doesn’t always give customers the most consistent quality. Adopting this new approach could cut consumer data usage by up to 20 percent.

During peak hours, Netflix accounts for more than a third of all data consumed,which can wreak havoc on a stream’s quality; it’s why you sometimes see streams jump from high resolution to low resolution without warning. Netflix’s new technology should make situations like that a thing of the past. If all goes according to plan, Netflix will be able to push out something like My Little Pony, which is considered “visually simple,” at 1080p with a bitrate of just 1.5 Mbps.

Netflix is hoping to apply its new encoding rules to every single TV show and movie in its catalog, because no two are the same. By the first quarter of next year, the service hopes to have completed the entire process, providing a better experience and ensuring users with slow speeds can stream high quality video.

Variety

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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