Jen Juneau
December 15, 2015 3:42 pm

Honesty time: The only reason I prefer running on a treadmill to running outdoors for short distances is because I have Netflix on my phone. When it takes too long to load or, God forbid, crashes and won’t restart, I’m forced to wallow in that first-world problem I call, “I’ll Watch Whatever is on the Gym TV, I Guess.” My only consolation is knowing I’m not alone.

Well, the day has come to say hello to better streaming quality, because Netflix has a solution: They’re going to re-encode their entire library of video files by hand to make sure each video looks its best while taking up the least amount of data possible – not a small task, considering how many files are on there and the fact that Netflix accounts for more than a third of all Internet traffic during peak times.

In a nutshell, encoding is what the size of a file depends on and, consequently, determines how much bandwidth is required to stream it. Currently, Netflix videos all possess a one-size-fits-all level of encoding. This is a great middle ground for visuals and the bottom lines/stress levels of Internet-service providers, but it also gives us viewers (and the service providers, actually) a bandwidth need that might not necessarily match the one that the file we’re trying to view truly needs to stream at an acceptable rate. Like, I really don’t need to see all the pores on Rory Gilmore’s face. Just a few will do.

So this hand-encoding, albeit undoubtedly a tedious undertaking in the beginning (thanks, Netflix tech folks!), will tailor each file’s size to be a little more relative to its true bandwidth needs. This should solve the problem of files that shouldn’t need as much bandwidth to stream (say, an episode of The Office) running a little more smoothly and putting less stress on our Internet-service providers than, for example, Michael Bay’s 745th Transformers film. And less data usage all around is a win. Hooray!

We can’t wait for all the best quality AND faster loading times on Netflix. Maybe our next binge-watch will only take five hours as opposed to six…think of all the things you could do with that extra hour!

(Image via Netflix / Shutterstock.com)

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