Netflix is planning to offer HDR quality mobile content for viewing on supporting devices because of an increasing mobile subscriber base and the company's belief that the format will eventually be universally adopted on mobile platforms.
The comments were made yesterday by Netflix executive Neil Hunt during a briefing with journalists, as part of a two-day event at Dolby Laboratories and Netflix headquarters in San Francisco. Hunt made the remarks as the two companies prepare to launch new Netflix series Iron Fist, which is being shot natively in HDR.
HDR stands for high dynamic range, meaning a display supporting the standard is capable of reproducing a wider and richer range of colors, brighter whites, and deeper blacks. HDR content is already available on Netflix and Amazon Video, but only for streaming to televisions that support the standard. However, Hunt and Dolby executives told The Verge that HDR is about to make the leap from big-screen to mobile, with Netflix aiming to be at the forefront of a global transition.
It's been about a year since Netflix became available globally — with the exception of a few markets, including China, and since then it has seen mobile usage soar. In established markets like the US and Canada, most Netflix watching still happens on TVs, Hunt said; but in some Asian countries, especially India, "mobile screens are the majority consumption device."
Both Netflix and Amazon are said to be gearing up to stream HDR content on mobile devices, possibly as early as April this year, although a specific date from either company has yet to be confirmed. Samsung's recently announced Tab 3 with AMOLED display is the first tablet to support videos with greater dynamic range, while the LG G6 is the first phone to support both HDR10 (the 10-bit open standard) and Dolby Vision HDR.
Apple is expected to announce new iPad models soon, possibly as early as next week, but apart from plenty of speculation regarding screen sizes, no rumors have mentioned the display technology that could feature. The same can't be said for Apple's rumored "iPhone 8", which will reportedly have a Samsung-supplied OLED display, making it more likely to support the HDR10 standard.
In addition to the mobile HDR announcement, Netflix said it was considering the idea of streaming mobile-specific cuts of its original movies and TV shows.
"It's not inconceivable that you could take a master [copy] and make a different cut for mobile," Hunt said. To date, Netflix hasn't been delivering different cuts for different viewing platforms, Hunt said, but "it's something we will explore over the next few years."
According to The Verge, the idea would be to create a version of the content with scenes or shots that are more easily visible or immersive on a mobile phone, given that certain shots can be hard to see or can appear diminished on a relatively small phone screen.