Article Lead Image

mxmstryo / flickr (CC by 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman

Netflix is changing its video encoding to help you save data

Slower Internet doesn’t necessarily mean bad visuals.


Selena Larson


Kids’ cartoon TV shows simply don’t require the same bandwidth as your favorite action movies on Netflix. To help people save data while providing the same high-quality streaming, Netflix is going to modify its algorithms to play different shows at different bit resolutions, Variety reports

Previously, Netflix had a “one-size-fits-all” approach to encoding movies and TV shows based on your bandwidth in real-time, and didn’t discern between cartoons and Hollywood blockbusters that have complex visual data. For the last four years, Netflix experimented with algorithms and new “recipes,” for video encoding, generating different versions of each video to optimize data. 

Now Netflix will change the encoding rules based on what type of content is streaming, making it possible for “visually simple” videos like My Little Pony to be streamed in 1080p resolution at a 1.5Mbps bitrate so people with slower connections can stream the high-quality version, according to Variety. And the new encoding will save bandwidth for customers viewing the highest quality or more complex films, saving up to 20 percent of bandwidth. 

It’s quite an undertaking to encode individual shows and movies, and Netflix is doing so on a per-episode basis. One episode of Jessica Jones might be packed with action, while another episode has less fighting and is not as visually complicated. The encoding and “recipes,” would be different for each episode.

The new encoding could free up peak hours when Netflix is accountable for 37 percent of home Internet traffic in North America, the publication reported. Already Netflix is rolling out the new encoding on films and TV shows in its massive catalog, and will reportedly be finished with the process by the spring of 2016. 

H/T Variety | Photo via mxmstryo/Flickr (CC by 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman

The Daily Dot