Chill, Netflix is about to improve its streaming service

15 Dec 2015

In a move that may get me to return to Netflix, the company is rebuilding it’s backend to improve streaming quality and, for worried Americans, drastically reduce its bandwidth needs.

In the US, Netflix occupies 37pc of all internet traffic at peak hours. Take a minute to absorb that ridiculous stat.

Not just that but, due to its original build, Netflix creates multiple options to watch the same show, depending on bandwidth capabilities for customers.

Both of these situations are a problem, it seems, with the company reworking its backend to both reduce its data woes (by 20pc), and improve streaming services for everyone, be they on poor or excellent internet connections.

Streaming is perhaps my least favourite way of watching TV shows or movies, with lag, resolution and that horrible word, buffering, a triumvirate of frustration for me.

But what Netflix is doing, and why it’s doing it, is interesting. As revealed by Variety, the company used to treat each show or movie the same, allocating the same amount of data and thus offering that varying bandwidth.

A few years ago, its engineers realised this was a problem, in that some shows need far more attention than others – animated shows, for example, should not be treated the same as action movies, with resolution and bit-rate requirements quite different.

So now a reappraisal means it’s building a new model that dedicates more bits to shows that require them, and less to those that don’t.

“You shouldn’t allocate the same amount of bits for My Little Pony as for The Avengers,” Anne Aaron, video algorithms manager at Netflix, told Variety.

The plan is to fix the service in the early part of 2016.

Netflix image via Twin Design/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic