Netflix has officially begun streaming Breaking Bad in 4k.
The show’s move from standard, common people’s HD to super-pretty Ultra-HD has been trailed by the service for some time: at the beginning of the year, Sony Pictures and Netflix confirmed that they would be bringing both Vince Gilligan’s TV series and the second season of House of Cards to your eyeballs at a level of definition so high your retinas would not be able to cope with it.
In fact, your eyes probably haven’t even noticed the difference. That is, unless you have a 4K TV. And a broadband speed of at least 15 Mbps.
That remains the main problem with UltraHD: Netflix and Sony’s commitment to remastering all 62 episodes of Breaking Bad from the original negatives is only available “on select 4K Smart TVs”, they wrote in their tech blog. The fact that it was only announced here, rather than issued as worldwide press release to the media, is telling in itself. (Although, if you have an hour to spare, Netflix’s tech blog is a fascinating look at the company’s behind-the-scenes wizardry.)
“This blog post is also intended to highlight the collaboration between Sony Pictures Entertainment and Netflix to modernize the digital supply chain that transports digital media from content studios, like Sony Pictures, to streaming retailers, like Netflix,” the blog added.
The pair agreed on an “early subset of IMF for the transfer of the video and audio files”. In case you’re wondering, IMF stands for Interoperable Master Format, an emerging SMPTE specification governing file formats and metadata for digital media archiving and B2B exchange. It does not mean that the programme was hand delivered by Tom Cruise to your living room.
“At Netflix, we are excited about IMF and we are committing significant R&D efforts towards adopting IMF for content ingestion. Netflix has an early subset of IMF in production today and we will support most of the current IMF App 2 draft by the end of 2014,” continued the post.
“We are pleased that Sony Pictures is an early innovator in this space and we are looking forward to the same collaboration with additional content studio partners.”
Indeed, alongside the two TV series, Sony’s Moving Art documentaries are also in Netflix’s global 4K catalog, as well as – for US customers – Smurfs 2, Ghostbusters, and Ghostbusters 2.
But until the price of 4K TVs – namely, the ones that are compatible with Netflix’s 4k – are affordable and more widely available, it may be some time until your eyes can full appreciate Aaron Paul in all his magnet-loving detail.
“4k, b*tch!” shouts a single wealthy man with an expensive TV somewhere. Heisenberg’s empire, though, is yet to spread.