Netflix was using the wrong approach
YouTube has been automatically adjusting the quality of its video streams depending on the viewer’s available bandwidth, and it seems that Netflix has been doing exactly the same thing for the most part. However, it recently realized that this approach could be wrong.
Anne Aaron, the video algorithms manager at Netflix, said, “You shouldn’t allocate the same amount of bits for My Little Pony as for The Avengers.”
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The idea here is that animated shows like My Little Pony need much less data for reproduction than what is required by a more complex movie such as The Avengers, in which a lot is happening in terms of action, CGI, and other things. The conclusion is that Netflix will need to apply different encoding rules to each title available in its catalog, and the reason for this, according to Aaron, is that “a one-size-fits-all model doesn’t give you the most optimal quality.”
Such an approach will help users stream in higher quality than before, potentially at faster speeds and probably at lower data consumption. Netflix’s video algorithm team expects to re-encode all Netflix shows and movies on their servers by the end of the firs quarter.
Tried and tested
Variety also tested the new algorithm, for which it mounted two TVs side by side and streamed two episodes of Orange is the New Black in 1080p on them. The images on the two TVs looked the same, but one was streamed at 5800kbps, which made use of the older encoding system, while the other displayed the show at 4640kbps.
In the end, it was found that the show streamed on the new system used 20% less bandwidth than the show streamed using the old encoding process. According to Variety, the new system will allow viewers to stream a simple cartoon like My Little Pony in a 1080p resolution with a bit rate of 1.5Mbps. At the same time, it will be possible for someone with a slow internet connection to watch the show in full HD and save data as well.