UK Netflix subscribers with 4K TVs can now watch the latest series of House of Cards in Ultra HD.
The video streaming firm confirmed that viewers in the UK will be able to watch Kevin Spacey as the scheming Frank Underwood in 4K last month. Those who’ve already shelled out for a 4K set and are desperate for something to watch can get their teeth into the celebrated politcal drama.
While House of Cards season 2 is the only show you’ll be able to enjoy in the new high-definition resolution, Netflix has promised it’ll bring Breaking Bad, the hit show about chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin Walter White to screens in 4K, as well as other Netflix Originals content.
TV sets that can get Netflix 4K streams now include the Samsung UH8550 and UH9000 4K sets. Netflix declined to name specific products but mentioned that future TVs from Samsung, Sony, LG, and Vizio would support 4K content from Netflix. In theory any smart TV set with access to Netflix and the ability to decode HEVC (H.265) content should be able to stream it.
That’s the good news – now for the bad. While Netflix isn’t charging customers any extra for 4K, you’ll only be able to get this if your broadband connection is consistently delivering bandwidth of at least 20Mbps. For many in the UK this will be an impossibility – peak network congestion means you won’t be able get this kind of bandwidth on many packages, even if your headline speed is above 20Mbps.
Netflix’s product manager for streaming platforms Richard Smith said: “To get the highest quality Netflix experience in Ultra HD 4K, we recommend available bandwidth of at least 20Mbps. This provides enough throughput for the stream, which is about 16Mbps, plus headroom for service variability.”
Because of Brits creaky broadband connections – the average UK download speed is 17.8Mbps, according to Ofcom – and the number of 4K TV sets that are currently on the market, Smith reckons that it’ll be another five years before 4K Ultra HD will become mainstream, by which time we might be ready to start salivating over the prospect of getting 8K Ultra HD (also known as Super Hi-Vision) on our TVs.
In 2020, Japanese broadcaster NHK aims to shoot the Tokyo Olympic Games in 8K and is already experimenting with 8K broadcasts using terrestrial TV signals.
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