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updated: 1/10/2014 7:23 AM

Netflix app to stream 4K on new TVs immediately

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  • Neil Hunt, Netflix's chief product officer, demonstrates ultra high definition streaming of a ěHouse of Cardsî trailer on a Sony TV on the sidelines of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

      Neil Hunt, Netflix's chief product officer, demonstrates ultra high definition streaming of a ěHouse of Cardsî trailer on a Sony TV on the sidelines of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS -- Netflix says video streaming of its programming in ultra-high definition will work for buyers of new UHD sets from Sony, LG, Samsung, Vizio and others upon purchase.

That's because Ultra HD models from those makers will include the Netflix app and chips that decode signals in the so-called High Efficiency Video Coding standard, or HEVC.

The chip is required to decode signals that Netflix Inc. will compress by more than 100 times and squeeze through the Internet at a speed of 15.6 megabits per second. That's a download speed widely available from Internet providers in the U.S.

When the sets go on sale in the next few months, Netflix will be ready with Ultra HD programming, including some nature documentaries and the second season of its original series, "House of Cards." Ultra HD streaming will be part of the standard Netflix streaming price of $8 a month, the company said.

Netflix showed off streaming in Ultra HD, or 4K, on the sidelines of the International CES gadget show this week. The format has four times as many pixels as standard HD and vastly improves the clarity of larger screens that measure 60 or more inches diagonally. Netflix videos that are available in the sharper format are labeled with the "Ultra HD 4K" symbol.

The picture was crisp on a large Sony Bravia screen when running off hotel Internet that was boosted to 50 Mbps, and didn't seem to take any longer than standard Netflix video to load.

Neil Hunt, Netflix's chief product officer, said the company was in a "unique place" by being able to order original programming in 4K and then being able to deliver it to the small group of early adopters while the format is still in its early stages.

"People are recognizing that disc formats are yesterday's solution," Hunt said.

Because of the cost challenges of making a new disc format or upgrading TV production facilities for small audiences, most content early on "is bound to be Internet-delivered," he said.

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