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Ultra HD 4K TV on Netflix’s Internet Video Service Attracts Premium Price

Monday, October 13th, 2014 (7:55 am) - Score 6,893

In the not too distant future new customers who join Netflix in the hope of being able to watch the latest TV shows and some films in Ultra HD 4K (3840 x 2160 resolution) quality, via “superfast” broadband capable Internet connections, will be asked to pay several pounds extra.

At present customers in the United Kingdom, much like other countries where Netflix is available, generally have to pick from a selection of three price plans; although they do a very poor job of explaining this on the front page unless you dig deeper into their help pages.

Netflix UK Price Plans
* Watch on 1 screen at a time in Standard Definition. £5.99 a month
* Watch on 2 screens at a time. High Definition available. £6.99 a month
* Watch on 4 screens at a time. High Definition available. £8.99 a month

Generally speaking Netflix “requires” a minimum broadband ISP download speed of 0.5Mbps (512Kbps) to function, although they recommend between 1.5Mbps to 3Mbps for SD quality streams and 5Mbps for HD (720p or better). Since earlier this year Netflix has also been deploying a small selection of 4K (Ultra HD) content, which they recommend requires a 25Mbps connection (most people on “superfast” fibre or cable broadband links should be fine), but currently it only works on certain supported devices / TV’s.

At present Netflix’s 4K content also remains extremely limited, not unlike the selection of affordable 4K TV’s, and restricted to shows like “House of Cards” and “Breaking Bad”, although there are a few movies too (e.g. “Smurfs 2”, “Ghostbusters” and “Ghostbusters 2”). However, in a warning of things to come for the United Kingdom, Netflix’s USA division has advised that customers seeking to view 4K content on their service will now have to pay $11.99 per month (£7.44).

A Netflix Spokesman said (Variety):

We decided to move 4K UHD video into our four-stream plan for new members who sign up and care about the highest-quality video Netflix offers. We have a modest and growing catalog of titles in 4K, including ‘House of Cards,’ ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘The Blacklist’ and a slate of upcoming Netflix original series.”

By comparison existing customers on the $8.99 (£5.58) plan, which is equivalent to the UK’s two HD screens option for £6.99 (UK VAT of 20% makes up most of the difference), are currently able to watch the 4K content at no extra charge and it looks like that will continue (i.e. the extra price plan will initially only impact new subscribers). So if the trend follows, much as it has done in the past, then customers in the UK can probably expect to be charged around £9 per month when the plan goes live on this side of the pond.

We can of course understand Netflix’s point of view on the matter as it certainly costs more to deliver shows in a higher quality, although at the same time they should weight that against the limited market of 4K users (related TV’s are getting a lot cheaper, but they’re still not quite at the point of mass adoption) and the lack of supporting content.

It’s also important not to forget that more than half of the United Kingdom are still using connections that would struggle to deliver a single smooth 4K video stream using Neflix’s service, with Ofcom’s latest report putting the national average fixed line speed at 18.7Mbps (here).

But for the time being the latest stats from Netflix’s internal speed index, which reflects the performance of their own video streams more than end user connection capability, still suggests that SD quality streaming remains the most dominant. NOTE: Not all shows are available in HD.

Netflix’s UK ISP Speed Index (August 2014 Data)
1. Virgin Media 3.42Mbps
2. BT 3.01Mbps
3. Sky Broadband 2.79Mbps
4. TalkTalk 2.72Mbps
5. EE 2.70Mbps

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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4 Responses
  1. Sean McRobbie says:

    “By comparison existing customers on the $8.99 (£5.58) plan, which is equivalent to the UK’s two HD screens option for £6.99 (UK VAT of 20% makes up most of the difference), are currently able to watch the 4K content at no extra charge and it looks like that will continue”

    I’m not so sure about that. I looked in my account the other day and saw the same options that I do today:

    CURRENT PLAN: 2 SCREENS + HD Watch on 2 screens at a time. HD available. £5.99/month
    4 SCREENS + HD Watch on 4 screens at a time. HD and Ultra HD available. £8.99/month

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      You might be an existing customer and thus the old price may still hold. But current prices are as follows and as stated in the article:

      https://www.netflix.com/changeplan

  2. Chris C says:

    I think existing customers have got a free upgrade to HD (and 2 screens) tempoarily for 1-2 years but not ultra hd, on my account page its listed as 8.99 a month only.

    When did netflix add a screen’s limit? wasnt there when I signed up. I also hope they havent removed their “super hd” mode.

    1. dan says:

      I have just been in contact with netflix on their live chat and they have said to me, they removed the super hd in the name. You still get super hd, you just can’t distinguish by film choice or if you use a console by checking what your stream is at.

      I also noticed they removed the P at the end of the numbers.

      I hope this helps anyone.

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