Netflix today announced that the company has started offering users "Super HD
" and 3D streams on demand, but only if your ISP signs a partnership with them. Netflix launched their own Open Connect content delivery network (CDN) last year in order to cut costs, and now the company is sweetening the pot for ISPs and consumers, offering a limited catalog of Super HD and 3D titles to the customers of Open Connect ISP partners.
"Leading-edge ISPs around the world such as Cablevision, Virgin Media, BritishTelecom, Telmex, Telus, TDC, GVT, among many others, are already participating in Open Connect to provide the highest-possible quality Netflix service to consumers," said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings in a statement. "Our goal is to have all of our members served by Open Connect as soon as possible."
At the moment Cablevision is the only United States ISP to announce their involvement, though Netflix says other ISPs have signed on but not publicized it yet. The announcement of Super HD and 3D streams comes just as Netflix has started ranking the top streaming ISPs each month
. It now makes sense to surmise that the entire point of the rankings is to nudge ISPs to join Netflix's CDN.
According to Netflix, Super HD streams need at least 5 Mbps of bandwidth, though the highest quality is obtained at 7 Mbps. The company isn't offering technical specifics on how exactly these streams surpass 1080p. 3D streams need at least 6 Mbps of bandwidth, with the highest quality needing 12 Mbps.
"These new Super HD and 3D formats are more challenging to deliver than our other video streams, which is why we will deliver them through Open Connect," said Ken Florance , vice president of content delivery at Netflix. "Any ISP that wants to be able to deliver our new formats can do so easily and for free."
Not all devices support the new standard. The Netflix website
notes that there's several missing hardware partners, most notable being Microsoft's Xbox 360. You can check whether your ISP has become a partner by visiting the Super HD website
over the next few months. Given some of the network neutrality fisticuffs we've seen on this front (recall the Level3 and Comcast fight
), it will be interesting to see if industry heavy-hitters AT&T, Verizon or Comcast balk at the offer.