In what must be one of the most impressive encoding projects in recent memory, Netflix will be re-encoding their entire catalogue to try to reduce the bandwidth required to stream their content by 20%. As we mentioned last week, 70% of the downstream bandwidth on the internet is streamed content and you can expect that Netflix accounts for quite a bit of this bandwidth. The reduced traffic will help Netflix provide content to those with data caps as well as reducing the associated costs Netflix incurs when storing and sending data so the investment is well worth it.
The project itself will be quite interesting, they cannot simply switch to H.265 as most of the hardware connecting to their services still use a dedicated H.264 decoder. Another challenge is the size of their catalogue, they can't sit down and encode each video separately as a whole, instead they have to find a way to spread the tasks over multiple servers, each taking a small portion of a show. Additionally their are challenges specific to certain videos, fog and darkness suffer when they are encoded poorly and must be dealt with separately from content which does not show as much noise when encoded to a low bit rate. Check out the links from Slashdot for more information on this project but be warned, the discussions include My Little Pony references.
"Netflix has spent four years developing a new and more efficient video-encoding process that can shave off 20% in terms of space and bandwidth without reducing the quality of streamed video. With streaming video accounting for 70% of broadband use, the saving is much-needed, although the advent of 4K streaming, higher frame rates and HDR are likely to account for it all soon after."
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