Most streaming services offer SD and HD videos at different prices. But is this price difference appropriate if 4K is available? Should streaming services treat different video resolutions like different products?
Most streaming services charge an additional fee for HD
Despite the increase in 4K video and high-speed Internet connections, streaming services still rely on the difference between standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD), Video ̵
This approach is now pretty easy to miss. It has been like this for a long time and many people are happy to be able to "save" a dollar or two by buying SD content. But do streaming services do you a favor by offering low-resolution video at a discount? Do these companies additionally pay for storing and delivering SD copies of films? And considering the current popularity of 4K HD video, should not we consider the quality of video streaming and 4K a paid upgrade?
This is not like DVD and Blu-ray
When Walmart publishes DVD and Blu-ray copies of Toy Story 3 on the shelves. There are good reasons to sell these different copies at different prices. For one thing, Blu-ray discs are more expensive to produce than DVDs. Not to mention that both products require shelf space and the shelf space for Blu-ray discs (at this time) is more valuable than the shelf space for DVDs.
People are trying to transfer this logic to digital streaming services. but it does not last. Sure, the storage centers used to stream websites might be considered shelf space, but streaming services do not consider SD and HD copies of videos as different products. Even if you pay for HD, you may get SD to prevent video buffering.
Remember the video buffering? It is much rarer than it used to be. That's because each streaming service stores SD and HD copies of its library, so you can seamlessly switch to a shitty, low-resolution video when your internet connection crashes and bypasses the buffering screen.
YouTube has no problem saving videos
Compare YouTube (a free streaming service that offers 4K videos) to our favorite premium streaming sites. For every minute that passes in your short life, about 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube (you can track this in real-time on everysecond.io). If you count a little, you get 30,000 hours of new YouTube content every hour. By comparison, the entire Prime Video library for 2017 has just reached 19,200 hours.
YouTube definitely uses a lot of storage. But here is something else to consider. In a compelling 2013 computer-philography video, a group of bright YouTube employees explain how each YouTube video is copied into "more than a few dozen" file formats and video resolutions (1080p, 720p, and so on) to ensure the site plays well with any device at any connection speed. When combined with YouTube's unbelievably large library, this approach requires a lot of disk space.
Copy premium streaming services files to this extent? Not even close. All modern browsers support some extremely popular (and heavily compressed) video encoding methods, such as HTML5, H.264, and WebM VP8. Of course, most (if not all) premium streaming sites stick to these popular formats.
Storage is not a good excuse for the price differences between streaming SD and HD video. If YouTube is able to offer 4K videos for free despite its ridiculous storage footprint, why does Amazon choose to pay Toy Story 3 in 1080p for $ 1? Why does Netflix offer different pricing for premium SD and HD content? If you can watch a 4K unboxing video for free on YouTube, why pay extra to watch HD movies on paid streaming services?
Content delivery is not much more expensive
Premium streaming sites can & # 39; Do not use storage and web hosting as an excuse to sell SD and HD videos at different prices. It may be more expensive for websites to deliver HD video to consumers, offering them SD videos at a reduced price. That makes sense, right?
Of course not. Streaming services are delivered through Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and Open Connect Appliances (OCAs), significantly reducing the cost and complexity of delivering HD content. These terms sound very abstract and dense, but are quite simple.
Internet traffic is like normal traffic. If everyone tries to take a road, it will cause a jam and move very slowly. The same thing happens on websites. Streaming services create CDNs to correct this problem. A CDN is a dense global network of servers, all containing the same content. They are like different roads to the same destination. That way, Netflix does not come to a standstill every time a new season of Stranger Things comes out.
OCAs are similar to CDNs, but are designed to prevent traffic jams across the Internet, not just a single web page. Like OCAs, CDNs contain an extensive video library and are distributed worldwide. The big difference is that CDNs are operated by your internet service provider. If your entire neighborhood is seeing the new season of Stranger Things, your ISP will redirect Internet traffic to a CDN, so that non-Stranger Things fans will not find Internet jams.
Obviously, these CDNs and OCAs cost a lot of money to maintain. They are, so to speak, "internet infrastructure". The investment has already been made so that the cost of delivering HD content rather than SD content is negligible at best. However, some premium streaming services still charge you for different prices for SD and HD videos, and they are still set to 4K.
Is Content Licensing to Blame?
Streaming services have no real excuse for the price differences between SD and HD video. They already save each video in multiple resolutions, and delivering content barely costs a penny.
It's hard to say why streaming services sell SD and HD videos at different prices, but the strange relationship between TV networks and streaming companies might be the answer. In a 2016 Reddit thread, a group of confused YouTube users complained that some of the YouTube-sold HD shows and movies could only be streamed in 480p (not in HD at all). As it turned out, some of these shows and movies included a tiny disclaimer: "HD playback is not available in web browsers."
Why would not HD be available in web browsers? Well, one of the shows in question is Silicon Valley, which is owned by HBO, and it's possible that YouTube may have the rights to sell HD copies of the show However, should people subscribe to HBO GO if they can only watch Silicon Valley in HD on YouTube?
It's also possible that this strange business practice is on Netflix may have to pay extra to get the HD license for Friends and Amazon may have to pay extra to get the HD license for Toy Story 3. 4K content is probably even more expensive in licensing!
Is that a stupid excuse? Of course. Streaming services and television networks treat different video resolutions like different products, leaving consumers to deal with the clutter. What is so ironic and frustrating about the situation is that these companies are so entangled in their own nonsense that they ignore the booming 4K video market. 108 million people are expected to buy 4K TVs in 2019. Do not you think they would pay $ 2 extra to borrow a 4K copy of your movie?
Will everyone charge an additional 4K fee?
Some people would be prepared to pay a dollar extra for 4K video. If you're looking for a good-looking TV, why pinch pennies when it comes to content?
At least 4K is new and shiny. Paying extra for HD videos compared to SD low resolution video in 2019 seems silly. If HD SD replaced "streamlined" video resolution on streaming sites, we would be happy. Art of.
It's hard to forget that YouTube offers free 4K videos despite its storage cost. If YouTube can show 4K videos for free, why should we charge extra for 4K videos on premium streaming platforms?
Not everyone charged an extra charge for 4K
From now on, the future looks decent. Google Play, YouTube and Apple offer 4K as standard (and only) video resolution for a handful of movies and shows. Amazon makes every effort to provide Prime subscribers with 4K videos at no extra cost. At the same time, these services still result in price differences between SD and HD content, and Netflix only offers 4K video for its highest paid subscribers.