If you Google “4K streaming,” one of the first hits you’ll get is a Netflix help page, “Can I stream Netflix in Ultra HD 4K?” Dig a little bit, and you’ll find that you only need to pay about $3.00 more a month in addition to your regular subscription to get the service. What the average user might skim past, though, is the amount of bandwidth you need to actually pull it off. Netflix suggests a download speed of 25Mbps. In reality, 4K streaming demands about 15–16Mbps, but users should have the overhead, so I was glad to see that suggestion.
Personally, I wouldn’t expect to use anything slower than a 50Mbps connection. While most households still don’t have that kind of speed, I don’t think that’s going to be the case for very long. According to Akamai’s latest “State of the Internet Report,” global internet speeds grew by 24% in Q1 of 2014;
in the U.S., speeds grew by 31% to 10.5Mbps. That probably sounds surprisingly low to most Streaming Media readers who wouldn’t be able to live with that kind of bandwidth, but for the average consumer, it’s enough.
So if that’s the typical bandwidth in consumers’ homes, why should you be investing in encoding infrastructure to handle 4K now? I know exactly what you’re thinking: It’s too expensive to deliver, and there is just not enough demand—just look at those bandwidth numbers. But there are people out there who are willing to pay for premium content and a premium experience, and you don’t need to deliver all your content in 4K to land that top-dollar subscriber. That’s part of the 4K trick here in today’s streaming video world. It doesn’t take a Reed Hastings to figure out that a couple of bucks more a head can really add up. You have to remember what kind of subscriber 4K is targeting right now—internet-savvy people with disposable income. To them, 8.3 million pixels is darn cool, even if they only get a taste. You are going to make your money on targeting and retaining this type of customer, the kind who already forgot he’s paying extra for a service he’s only getting a glimpse of.
So today you may not be straying very far from H.264 for the bulk of your library, but you better start with something new, because your competitors are. 4K is not going away—it’s already here, and you need to be thinking strategy. For all the content that is coming online in 2015, a cutting-edge streaming offer is mandatory, and that’s where this Superguide is going to come in really handy. Here, you’ll find thought-provoking contributions from the companies that are already helping the world see video in stunning clarity, the likes of which have to be experienced to be appreciated.
Download this Superguide here, and more Superguides at: http://www.streamingmedia.com/Superguides