Media

Netflix exec: We're shooting all shows in 4K and it will revolutionize Internet video quality

Netflix's newest feature lets you share movie recommendations with Facebook friends.

Above: Netflix's newest feature lets you share movie recommendations with Facebook friends.

Image Credit: Netflix

A top Netflix executive said on Tuesday that the company has moved to shooting all of its original content in 4K.

In the coming months, Ted Sarandos, the company’s chief content officer, said when people start to see the difference, it will dramatically change the level of quality they will want when watching videos online.

“It will completely invert people’s expectations of quality of content on the Internet.” Sarandos said

Sarandos made his remarks as part of a wide-ranging interview on stage at the MIPCOM conference in Cannes. The conference is one of the world’s largest gatherings of new and traditional broadcasters and content creators. And those are important ears and eyes for Netflix, which has increasingly been looking outside the U.S. for places to grow.

To that end, Netflix recently embarked on a major European expansion that added six new markets, including Germany and France. Of course, that also caused a fair bit of controversy in film-loving France.

But Netflix chugs on. Sarandos made it clear that he believes Netflix is part of a wave that will change just about everything when it comes to the way we make and watch television and films.

“The current distribution model for movies in the U.S. particularly, but also around the world, is pretty antiquated,” Sarandos said, according to the conference’s stream of live tweets and video clips.

“Releasing one episode at a time on linear television for scripted TV will, I think, soon be a thing of the past,” he added.

Part of the way Netflix is changing our viewing habits is through its technology. Given that it’s not likely to be able to stream the biggest Hollywood blockbusters on a regular basis due to cost and rights issues, the company is increasingly leaning on its data and algorithms to help viewers find and enjoy content from its library.

“The way we test ourselves on it is the take rate,” Sarandos said. “When we show you all these various pieces of content on the site, how frequently do you take the one that we present. And of the one you took, how frequently do you completely watch the whole series. And do you rate it, one to five stars. So if we presented it to you, and you watched it, and you rated it, that’s a big win.”

It’s a system that does have its limitations.

“I don’t think we know your mood yet,” he joked. “But I’d like to work on that.”

But the company has been able to use those analytics to make its push into original programming.

“Our ability to invest in ‘House of Cards’ at the level we did was enabled by analytics,” Sarandos said. “Which basically said if you have David Fincher and a script by Beau Willimon, and Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, that show could be quite large.”

However, Sarandos was clear that Netflix doesn’t use that data to steer the plot.

“There’s a misunderstanding about our analytics, that we somehow use the data to craft programming,” Sarandos said. “This is completely inaccurate. We use the data to determine the potential size of the show.”

In that regard, Sarandos walked through a number of original programming events Netflix has coming up:

—  Chelsea HandlerSarandos said the show will “lean on the things that Chelsea’s really great at: telling stories and making us laugh.”

Marco Polo: Debuting in December, he said it’s a massive show, with a cast and crew of 800 from around the world. “The star of the show is the show,” he said. “It’s beautiful, huge in scope. Took over five studio sound stages in Malaysia.”

— Adam Sandler: “I think Adam is a real talent who knows his audience really well,” Sarandos said. “And he knows where his audience is and how to talk to them. So when you say you’re going to do four Adam Sandler movies, you have a pretty good idea of what those are going to be and what they’re going to feel like.”

For the moment, Sarandos said, Netflix isn’t interested in live sports or news.

“If we can figure out how to do something different with news, that would be interesting,” Sarandos said. “I wouldn’t rule out anything.”

Circling back, Sarandos noted that original programming was important to the company’s push into new territories. He said “Orange is the New Black” is the most watched show on Netflix in France and Germany.

And he said Netflix was confident enough to announce plans for an original French-language series, called “Marseille,” because French TV shows had proven popular around the world.

To critics who have pointed to the thin lineup Netflix offers in new regions, Sarandos said the company typically launches with about half the programming it has available and then doubles it over the next 12 months, adding a little bit each day.