Tag Archives: amazon

YouTube and Amazon Prime Video join Netflix in Cutting Your Streaming Quality

Date: Fri, Mar 20, 2020
Written by: David Snelling

YouTube and Amazon have both now confirmed that they will join Netflix by reducing the quality of streams. This change is being put in place in a bid to help networks cope with the increased demand as millions stay home during the coronavirus outbreak.

YouTube and Amazon Prime Video subscribers could see the quality of their boxsets and movies plummet as firms attempt to help networks cope with the millions of people staying at home to avoid the spread of the coronavirus crisis. Both streaming platforms have confirmed plans to join Netflix, which has announced plans to restrict the amount of bandwidth that will be available to those who pay for Ultra HD quality until things return to some form of normality.

This radical change is thought to offer a significant saving, which would reduce data consumption by around 25 percent – allowing more people to stream at once during these unprecedented times. To put this into some perspective, an hour of standard definition video uses around 1 GB of data, while HD can use up to 3 GB an hour.

Now YouTube and Amazon have both agreed to follow Netflix with users about to getting lower quality streams sent to their devices. Explaining more about the decision, a spokesperson for YouTube said: “We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default.”

We are in ongoing conversations with the regulators including Ofcom, governments and network operators all over Europe. We will continue our work to minimise stress on the system, while also delivering a good user experience.

Amazon prime video netflix
YouTube Has Now Joined Netflix in Dropping Video Quality (Image: GETTY)

And a spokesperson for Amazon confirmed: “Prime Video is working with local authorities and Internet Service Providers where needed to help mitigate any network congestion, including in Europe where we’ve already begun the effort to reduce streaming bitrates whilst maintaining a quality streaming experience for our customers.

Despite this news of networks coming under increased pressure, it seems the UK’s broadband firms are confident they can cope. BT says its networks are built to support “evening peak” network capacity, which generally equates to at least ten times daytime demand. As a result, the broadband company is confident it can handle mass-scale home-working in response to COVID-19.

Speaking about the challenges ahead, Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division even with a massive increase of people working from home, broadband traffic won’t reach the levels of peak times where millions of people stream HD video at the same time. That’s the kind of traffic we’ve built our networks to support. We’re making sure there’s plenty of capacity in the network and that critical services are supported, and our network has more than ten times the amount of capacity needed for normal everyday use.

Working from home won’t generate significantly more traffic across our network than working in the office, even with more video calling and conferencing. So if more people need to work from home, our network will keep up with demand.”

Date: Fri, Mar 20, 2020
Written by: David Snelling
Source: https://www.express.co.uk

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4K vs 8K: Study finds that few viewers can see the difference

Date: 04 Mar 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


A double-blind study carried out by Pixar, Amazon, LG, ASC and Warner Bros found that few viewers can tell see the difference between 8K and 4K content on an 88-inch 8K OLED TVs, according to a report by Techhive.

4K TV vs 8K TV:

Multiple TV makers have started selling 8K TVs but there has not been much research into the benefits of 8K TVs. FlatpanelsHD has also found that some of the early 8K TVs are not capable of reproducing 8K resolution and last year we advised our readers not to buy an 8K TV of any type.

A comprehensive, double-blind study carried out by Pixar, Amazon, LG, American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), and Warner Bros – and described in impressive detail by Techhive – has now examined the subject, with the goal of finding out if viewers can see a difference between 4K and 8K.

A Comprehensive, Double-Blind Study 4K vs 8K

For the double-blind study seven different native 8K HDR10 video clips see box above were shown on an 88-inch 8K OLED TV (LG 88Z9) to 139 participants over three days. Participants were seated in two rows at about five and nine feet from the screen, respectively. The 4K Clips were Downscaled from the 8K Clips and then Upscaled Again to 8K on a PC using four-pixel duplication cubic.

In each session, the 4K and 8K versions of each clip were played in three sequences, though the sequences for each clip were not presented one immediately after another. In two of the sequences, the 4K and 8K versions were randomly assigned the labels “A” and “B” and played twice in an alternating manner—that is, A-B-A-B—after which the participants indicated which one looked better on a scoring form see Fig. 3.

In the third sequence, the 4K version was played four times, though the participants still saw the labels “A” and “B” alternate and scored them as before. This provided a control group to assure more robust statistics, Techhive explained and added that each participant was evaluated for their visual acuity.

THE RESULTS:

Since it was a comprehensive study that also took into account the viewers’ visual acuity, for example 20/20 vision or 20/10 vision, results were presented in several different ways. In the average of all results, the 8K clips were rated marginally Slightly Better than the 4K clips, said Techhive.

When evaluating only results from viewers with better 20/10 vision, two 8K clips A Bug’s Life and The Nature Footage were rated “Slightly Better” than the 4K Clips.

Lastly, all “slightly better“, “better” and “much better” responses were combined into a single “better” score to account for the nuance that people may have different perspectives on what is, for example, “slightly better” as opposed to “better“. The outcome was these two graphs.

Left: Distribution of Scores – Right: 3 Grades of “Better” Combined into Single Score.

As you can see, many viewers rated the 4K Version Higher than the 8K Version, which obviously should not happen. Believe the reason you see a large number of People Rating 4K better than 8K is that they really can’t see a difference and are simply guessing.

The more interesting point is the fact that for all clips except Clip 7, most people scored 4K the same as 8K. And 8K better than 4K is second most scored option. For Clip 7, it’s different, and most people scored 8K better than 4K, which was an interesting take-away, said Michael Zink, VP of Technology, Warner Bros. We recommend that you read the full article on Techhive.

Date: 04 Mar 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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Netflix Lowers Streaming Quality in Europe in Response to EU Request

Date: 20 Mar 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


In response to EU’s request to help reduce strain on internet bandwidth, Netflix will reduce its streaming quality in Europe by lowering the bitrate for 30 days.

REDUCED STREAMING QUALITY:

Earlier this week, European Commissioner Thierry Breton urged Netflix and other major streaming services to switch to standard definition when HD is not necessary and said that he had already discussed the initiative with Netflix CEO Reed Hasting.

To beat #COVID19, we stay at home. Teleworking and streaming help a lot but infrastructures might be in strain. To secure Internet access for all, let’s switch to standard definition when HD is not necessary,” Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for internal market, wrote on twitter on March 18.

Netflix has now responded to EU’s request – partially. It says that it will begin reducing bitrates across all streams in Europe for 30 days. Netflix estimates that it will reduce traffic in Europe by approximately 25%.

“Following the discussions between Commissioner Thierry Breton and Reed Hastings – and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus – Netflix has decided to begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days,” a spokesperson from Netflix said. “We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good quality service for our members.”

NOT SD RESOLUTION:

FlatpanelsHD has found that Netflix still offers streaming in HD resolution as well as 4K HDR10 and 4K Dolby Vision for now. The company has not capped its streaming quality to SD resolution.

It appears that Netflix’s approach is rather to cut off the higher bitrate levels. This is possible because Netflix uses adaptive bitrate meaning that all content is encoded and stored at multiple quality levels (bitrate, resolutions etc.). The viewer will automatically get the highest quality level available based on broadband speeds and hardware.

At the time of writing, FlatpanelsHD is seeing a 35-50% reduction in bitrate for some 4K streams while other 4K streams appear to be unaffected. We are seeing a more modest reduction in bitrate for HD streams but there are fluctuations here, too. As Netflix is still rolling out the changes, it is too early to draw conclusions. We refer to the comments section below for more information on how to check streaming quality on your Netflix streams at home.

This means that Netflix streaming in Europe will look more compressed than usual higher levels of artefacts, softer details etc. but still relatively good compared to many other streaming services. Apple, Amazon, Disney, Google and YouTube have not announced plans to reduce their streaming bitrate at his time.

Date: 20 Mar 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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Super Bowl LIV will be broadcast in 4K HDR, but there’s a catch.

Written By Caleb Denison

Date: January 23, 2020

There may be thousands of hours of 4K and HDR content available to watch online from Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV, and Disney+, but folks still complain there’s no 4K content to watch on their new 4K TVs. As large as the cord-cutter club may be, the vast majority of Americans still get their TV programming from cable and satellite providers like DirecTV, Dish, and Comcast Xfinity, and most broadcasters don’t supply much (if any) 4K content to watch. That’s about to change.

For the first time, 4K TV-owning football fans the nation over will be able to enjoy the biggest game of the year with more detail, better contrast, and more realistic color. Fox Sports has announced Super Bowl LIV will be delivered in Ultra High Definition 4K HDR to a massive audience.

What’s more, I’ll be on the ground in Miami with a crew from Digital Trends to bring you all the behind-the-scenes action as crews buckle up to deliver their biggest broadcast ever.

Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

How can I watch Super Bowl LIV in 4K HDR?

In order to enjoy this year’s game with the best picture quality and sound, you’ll first need a 4K HDR TV. If you don’t already have a 4K HDR-capable set, the good news is that a new one doesn’t have to set you back a small fortune. We’ve got several 4K TV suggestions for under $500. With that said, if you spend a bit more, you’ll get even better picture quality.

With the right TV in place, you’ll need to choose how you’re going to get the 4K HDR program from Fox. The network has told Digital Trends that it will feed the signal to DirecTV, Dish Network, Comcast Xfinity X1, Altice Optimum, and Verizon FIOS. If you subscribe to one of these providers, you’ll need to make sure you have a subscription tier that gets you access to the 4K-capable channels that will carry the game.

If you’re not subscribed to one of those services, you’ll need to use a streaming app. Fox has told me that the FOX Sports, FOX NOW, and FuboTV apps will carry the game in 4K HDR. However, you’ll want to make sure that the streaming device you use to access those apps is 4K HDR capable.

If you have purchased a 4K HDR TV in the last few years, there’s a good chance it is a smart TV with apps built right in. For many folks, this is the easiest way to get the game in 4K HDR and the most likely to get you the best quality picture.

If you use a separate streaming box or stick, it seems your results may vary. Fox told me that, for now, the Amazon Fire TV 4K will deliver 4K HDR, while the Apple TV 4K will offer 4K SDR (standard dynamic range). I’ve reached out to Fox for confirmation on whether the Roku platform will be supported, and if so, whether the broadcast will be in HDR or SDR. I’ll update this article when I find out, but for now, I have to wonder if Roku players or Roku TVs will be supported at all. If not, that would leave many 4K TCL TV owners in the dust.

Source: Peter G. Aiken / Getty Images

Will it be that much better?

Those who are able to enjoy Super Bowl in 4K HDR or 4K SDR will enjoy a much-improved picture over prior years, though I will point out that those who get the HDR version will net the most benefit.

Technically speaking, FOX will produce the broadcast natively in 1080p at 60fps (frames per second) in HLG HDR, then upconvert the signal to 2160p (4K UHD) at 60fps with HLG. The fact that the game is being natively produced in 1080p is, alone, a pretty noteworthy factor as far as resolution is concerned, but the HDR mastering that will take place will likely make the biggest difference.

In the past, the best cable and satellite providers could deliver was a 720p/1080i signal. With the game being produced in 1080p, we’ve already taken a leap forward. That it will be professionally upconverted to and delivered in 4K just takes the upconversion work off the shoulders of our TVs.

If your TV doesn’t support HLG HDR (most do) or your streaming box or platform can’t deliver it, not to worry, you’ll still get a better picture than before. But if you can unlock HDR, expect more vibrant colors and much better contrast. The gleam of stadium lights off of helmets should be particularly spectacular, as will the subtle details in the darker shades of the action.

Professional sports broadcasting has always been a gateway to mass adoption in many different TV tech areas. Streaming TV didn’t really take off until pro sports were widely available. Now, with FOX providing Super Bowl LIV in 4K HDR, the floodgates may open, rushing in more and more ultra-high definition, high dynamic range content to feed our fancy new TVs the signal they have been crying out for.

Date: January 23, 2020

Written By Caleb Denison

Source: https://www.digitaltrends.com

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Did Amazon’s Premier League kick-off hit the back of the net or just row Z?

Date: 4 December 2019
Written by: Rik Henderson

When Amazon won one of the packages of live Premier League football rights during 2018’s auction, skepticism followed.

Not only does it result in 20 matches being locked behind an Amazon Prime subscription that football fans might not want for the rest of the year, there were questions on how an online retailer and streaming giant would handle the beautiful game.

Well, the service debuted its first live coverage last night – with the Burnley vs Manchester City and Crystal Palace vs Bournemouth games being first to be screened, in 4K HDR and Full HD respectively. And, it must be said, they both looked superb on the platform. So, that’s one worry allayed.

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Indeed, the 4K HDR broadcast of the Man City game in particular was stunning. We watched on an LG 65-inch OLED TV and the crisp, clean detail was amplified by excellent HDR performance. It’s a cliche that gets rolled out with every tech advancement in sports TV, but it really did seem like we were there in the flesh – better even.

Yes, there are caveats. We have 350Mbps broadband and wired our TV directly to the router via Ethernet Cat-6 cabling.

Amazon Prime Premier League games: How to watch tonight’s football matches on Prime Video for free

Those watching on slower speed broadband and using a wireless internet connection might not have had the same stable, super-high resolution experience.

But, in comparison with the BBC’s trials during last year’s World Cup, this 4K HDR experience was exemplary. Remember, it’s not HLG but true HDR10.

That’s not to say there weren’t further issues though.

As widely posted on Twitter, delay on Amazon’s stream was a real problem. Some even reported up to two minutes worth of delay, which meant that they had long since been notified of a goal by their smartphone app of choice, before seeing the ball hit the back of the net themselves.

It’s not something we managed to test ourselves during the launch (but will be keeping an eye on during the Liverpool vs Everton game later today). However, we have noticed latency to be a real problem when streaming live sports coverage through other platforms before.

During the aforementioned World Cup, our next door neighbours’ cheers pre-empted any relevant moment in 4K HDR matches streaming over iPlayer. It lead to us switching it off entirely and watching the Full HD broadcast on regular TV instead.

And, even Now TV has a delay. It’s not as severe as Amazon’s reported issues, but we’ve often forgotten that Now TV plays catch up to regular Sky Q presentations of the same matches – to the detriment of family and friends who we’ve called before they’ve seen the same action.

So, ultimately, it’s not really Amazon’s fault alone. Streaming seems to be the culprit, full stop. After all, a live broadcast that would normally be transmitted to homes almost directly, needs to be encoded for streaming first. That can add an extra stage of latency and, therefore, delay.

That said, we’re not entirely sure why it takes a reported two minutes for that process to be completed, but these are early days for Amazon and we’re sure it’ll continue to improve its tech in time for future games.

In the meantime, though, we’ll be switching off notifications on any sports app we have on our phones in preparation for the Merseyside derby. And gagging the neighbours, just in case
.

Written by: Rik Henderson
Source: https://www.pocket-lint.com

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Join us in a digital climate strike

This September, millions will take to the streets to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels. Show your solidarity by displaying a digital climate strike banner for the month.

Date: September 12, 2019

Jack Lenox

Written by: Jack Lenox

With fires raging in the Amazon, hurricanes ripping across the Atlantic, and typhoons flooding Japan, our planet and our climate are sending us a message: We can no longer continue with business as usual.

The week starting September 20th, 350.org is organizing a Global Climate Strike, in association with Fridays For Future, to show global leaders that the time to act is now. Alongside the people walking out of workplaces, schools, and homes around the world, 350.org is organizing a digital climate strike. Websites participating in the digital strike will promote the physical strikes in the lead-up to the date, and partially block themselves to users on September 20th itself. That is where you come in!

Starting today, you can opt into the digital climate strike with your WordPress.com site, showing your commitment to this critical topic and spreading the word about the event. Between now and September 20th, your site will display a small climate strike banner. On the 20th, it will transform into a dismissible full-screen overlay.

WordPress.com site owners can head to My Site > Manage > Settings. At the top of the Settings menu, you will see a toggle switch — flip it on to join the digital climate strike.

Other WordPress sites can also join the movement by installing the Digital Climate Strike plugin from the WordPress.org plugin repository.

After the day of action, the banner will automatically disappear (or if you’ve installed the plugin, it will automatically disable) and your site will return to normal.

Together we can make a difference, and we hope you’ll join us in supporting this movement.

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