Netflix will add 1080p, 5.1-channel surround sound streaming to its online video service later in 2010

Netflix will add 1080p, 5.1-channel surround sound streaming to its online video service later in 2010

Summary: [UPDATE: As one of our readers points out below, Netflix will not be adding 1080p this year. Apparently, the feature was mistakenly placed on the 2010 development road map.

SHARE:

[UPDATE: As one of our readers points out below, Netflix will not be adding 1080p this year. Apparently, the feature was mistakenly placed on the 2010 development road map. That's a fairly big boo-boo. In any event, 5.1 surround sound is still on the list for adoption this year. ]

According to our sister site CNET, Netflix's on-demand video streaming service, a.k.a. Netflix Watch Instantly, is jumping on the 1080p HD bandwagon later this year, with a corresponding bump in audio to 5.1-channel surround sound.

The move comes after the company recently announced buoyant fourth-quarter results and predicted that two thirds of its monthly subscribers will watch videos through its online service by the middle of 2011. In addition to viewing them on PCs and laptops, subscribers can access Netflix Watch Instantly on game consoles, Blu-ray players, and other "connected" home theater devices.

While those watching videos on compatible monitors and HDTVs will be pleased with this development, what remains to be seen is how well Netflix (and your broadband connection) will be able to handle streaming the bandwidth-thirsty 1080p feed to your device. Already throughput speeds of around 5Mbps are required to handle 720p content from Netflix's service—how much of a bump will you need to view 1080p material without a major case of the stutters? Obviously how quickly Netflix's engineers (using Microsoft's Silverlight technology) can solve any technical hurdles surrounding this issue may play a part in when exactly subscribers will get their 1080p.

Topics: Data Centers, Browser, Cloud, Hardware, Mobility, Software Development

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

27 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • must be fake

    M$ silverlight can't handle 1080p streaming.
    Linux Geek
  • 1080p is not coming in 2010

    http://www.engadget.com/2010/02/08/1080p-5-1-surround-sound-coming-to-netflix-watch-instantly-in-2/
    cmcfarling
    • Even if they are just working on it

      for future release, that would be encouraging enough for me.
      Michael Kelly
  • Woot!

    I have FIOS - 20 megs each way.

    But the 5.1 is a bigger attraction to me than the 1080p. On my 50 inch TV, 720p does just fine, but stereo (Netflix's current audio) upped to simulated surround sound isn't cutting it.
    Takalok
    • RE: Netflix will add 1080p, 5.1-channel surround sound streaming to its online video service later in 2010

      @Takalok I completely agree, the video is fine the way it is. I want 5.1 and while I can get 5.1 through the PS3 the Roku video is far better.
      maze400
  • RE: Netflix will add 1080p, 5.1-channel surround sound streaming to its online video service later in 2010

    All well an good but Netflix doesn't offer many 1st run movies by Watch Instantly. Whats the point of having all of this hardware capability to stream video if you can't watch new movies?
    Mark1Guy
    • New Movies???

      There are many old movies I would much rather see again than many of the new ones. For a free service I think the selection that NetFlix watch instantly provides is excellent, as well as being very diverse. I never have any trouble finding something to watch and I always have more than 100 cued.
      Jeshimon
  • High-quality movies don't need the highest-quality streaming

    My family gets along just fine streaming Netflix
    films at 480p on our 65-inch Mitsubishi and
    listening to the soundtracks over a pair of $100
    Creative speakers. The films we choose to watch
    are so well-written that we're too busy thinking
    to notice that our eyes and ears are being
    shortchanged.
    paul613
    • Pixels the size of your head...

      Ummm... nonsense, of course, 480P on a 65inch TV is close to unwatcheable-- Sounds like this poster would really be into the radio dramas of the last century...
      noverge
      • Maybe just on your TV?

        480P output via component to a 720P 50" DLP rear-projection TV can
        look darn good to me. Maybe there's a crappy scaler somewhere
        between your 480P source (DVD player?) and the TV? I have an older
        50" HP md5020n DLP rear-projection set that has a great video
        scaler. That said, 480P is not the kind of great quality you see from
        1080i on PBS or Discovery, but I wouldn't call it "unwatchable", even
        though on a 65", it would obviously look a little worse. My older
        collection of VHS tapes, especially ones I recorded myself, do tend to
        be more in that unwatchable category. The streaming video from
        Netflix is better than VHS, but not even as good as 480P, but I expect
        it to improve every now and then, especially as ISPs upgrade their
        infrastructure. Verizon's FIOS already sends their on-demand video
        over the data portion of their system, so as not to occupy video
        "channels", as is generally the case with Comcast and others. This is
        one reason they've needed to use those high bandwidth wireless
        routers.
        garmon@...
    • Sound quality first, video quality later?

      Since 5.1 surround sound has been part of DVDs for years, and has
      recently arrived for TV (and soon for Netflix (and others?) streaming),
      you're really being short changed with simple stereo speakers. The
      problem with audio is that either it needs to be built into the TV
      (which means that surround and back is probably compromised) or it
      needs to be discrete components (maybe wireless surround/rear
      speakers will soon be a modestly priced TV add on?). I have now set
      up two 5.1/7.1 "home theatre" sound systems (one for a 50" read-
      projection TV and one for a 14" broadcast monitor -- yes, a nice old
      Sony Trinitron). I find that the sound makes all the difference
      between a flat movie and an immersive one (at least where they had
      competent sound editing). Dialog mostly comes from the center
      channel, where you'd expect it, but the surround, when it's kept
      subtle, is incredibly good. Too bad audio set up is such a bear ;-(
      garmon@...
  • RE: Netflix will add 1080p, 5.1-channel surround sound streaming to its onl

    The current Roku boxes don't seem to support 1080p.
    And BTW, it's not silverlight. The embedded devices (Roku,
    BD players, PS3, etc) don't seem to run on Silverlight.
    emiliosic
  • Wrong direction!

    Yep --- probably a bunch of folks out there with fat pipes and hungry eyes.
    Probably many-many more, especially in rural areas, on isp-imposed diets or stuck in airports with nothing on cell ...
    You'd think small and light is better.

    Dang .. unAmerican ..
    Go ahead and supersize me, even though I'll never be able to access it 8-)
    ChuckKristensen
  • how about more shows?

    instant play doesn't have a big selection of shows.

    when are film and especially tv going to get on the internet bandwagon?
    hansonjb
  • 720p 5.1 please

    Providing HD movie content with a stereo downmix is absurd IMO. 5.1 audio takes a small amount of bandwidth compared to the video and makes a far bigger impact than 720->1080 (for me anyway), I'd prefer they get that working first.
    frylock
    • RE: Netflix will add 1080p, 5.1-channel surround sound streaming to its online video service later in 2010

      @frylock Exactly, sir! I can't see the difference between 1080i/p and 720 in many movies and the flat stereo sound means I only watch documentaries on Netflix. They need to get busy fixing this issue.
      jpoel
  • RE: Netflix will add 1080p, 5.1-channel surround sound streaming to its online video service later in 2010

    It would be nice for us folks in rural America if they
    had a caching option that allowed the content to be
    downloaded prior to viewing. Most of the content would
    have to be protected from copying, of course, but they
    should be able to figure that out.

    I feel fortunate to have DSL and not dial-up access, but
    DSL can't even reliably handle their SD content.
    jdm@...
    • caching...

      There has got to be a way to do it, I have to agree and the need is self-evident.
      Jeshimon
      • Amen. Totally agree!

        PLEASE.... PLEASE.... PLEASE let us cache.

        And PLEASE.... PLEASE... PLEASE dump the clunky Silverlight player. It's crap! The old player worked great.

        One of my big complaints is that I have two monitors, and I like to watch movies "full screen" while working. Guess what? The Silverlight player can't do that. The minute you click on something else, the overlay goes away.
        jparr
  • RE: Netflix will add 1080p, 5.1-channel surround sound streaming to its online video service later in 2010

    Love NetFlix! There is nothing better out there right now.
    rjjrjjr@...