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Netflix’s tech drive to stream videos on low internet speeds

MUMBAI: With an eye to improving the delivery of its video content in India and other parts of the world, Netflix is using new codecs and denser encodes.

While important in India because of bandwidth constraints, the technology is also relevant in other markets.

Netflix is planning to introduce a system that streams videos at internet speeds as low as 100kbps (in addition to 56 kbps for audio streaming) while retaining almost the same image quality for viewers.

This feature will allow consumers stream up 30GB of video content within a 2GB data cap, thereby making it crucial for emerging markets like India where people watch Netflix content more frequently on mobile phones, mostly on poor networks with limited data caps, the Economic Times quoted Netflix chief director of video algorithms Anne Aaron as saying.

The new system is expected to be rolled out by the end of this year. Netflix is collaborating with academic universities like University of Southern California, University of Texas at Austin and the University of Nantes for this.

Another area Netflix is working on is Open Connect Servers. The online streaming giant has started setting up its own content delivery network (CDN) servers, or Open Connect servers, across India to improve the delivery of of its videos.

“We design the hardware and the software that runs on these servers and then we connect them directly to the ISP network” ET quoted Netflix VP of content delivery Ken Florance as saying. “We don’t charge anybody for the servers. So if you’re an ISP and you want an open connect server or a dozen of them or 100 of them in your network, we give them to you for free because it’s a real benefit to us.”

Netflix recently introduced a personalised percentage match score that shows how likely the user will like the show by analyzing their individual viewing habits and behaviour. “The most important work we do is around personalisation. If you take 50 people in US or 50 people in India, their tastes are hugely varied. So the value of personalisation is that the consumer can get a great experience where the hundreds and the thousands of titles that we’re producing gets filtered down and prioritized, so you get to focus on the titles that you want,” ET quoted Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings as saying.