HDR content on Netflix is getting a major boost – here's everything you need to know

Netflix has optimised all of its HDR content
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi? / Netflix, Life On Our Planet)

Netflix has optimised its entire catalogue of HDR content, meaning better picture quality, a more consistent experience across devices and less delay.

The streaming giant detailed the process on the Netflix Technology Blog. And when we say detailed, we mean detailed.

Long story short, Netflix has introduced an HDR variant of VMAF (Video Multi-method Assessment Fusion), which is what the company uses to measure video quality. This measures subjective data like motion, visual information and detail loss across both HDR10 and Dolby Vision content (the tech was developed by Netflix and Dolby).

Unlocking this information has allowed Netflix to move from fixed bitrate video encoding to dynamically optimised (HDR-DO) encodes for 4K HDR.

Not only do HDR-DO encodes deliver higher video quality than so-called fixed ladder encoding, they're also more efficient, taking up only 58 per cent of the same storage space. This should mean less internet data usage on mobile devices (meaning potentially lower phone bills), 40 per cent less buffering, and less variation between devices, making for a more consistent viewing experience regardless of what device you're streaming on.

This could help sweeten the pill of the recent price hike, which saw Netflix Premium rise from £15.99 ($19.99) to £17.99 ($22.99) a month. In Australia, it costs AU$22.99 a month.

The process of optimising HDR content started back in early 2022, and was completed in June 2023 – but Netflix only just made the information public. The service introduced HDR content back in 2016.

Netflix also said it's committed to the open source community. So who knows, soon this tool could be available for all streaming services...


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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.