There are more than a dozen different streaming services on the market that offer you to watch movies and TV shows in good quality. Unfortunately, the understanding of quality varies greatly from service to service, and there is simply no common denominator between them. Moreover, services with high-definition content often do not offer it for portable devices such as smartphones. Let me give you an example, you bought movies on Google Play Movies, put together a good collection, but you can’t get them in high definition! Some movies are on YouTube, but they are also missing in 4K. The application allows you to watch 4K movies only on a TV that supports this resolution, but you cannot see them on any other device, even if it is technically capable of playing such content.
It is easy to explain why online services are reluctant to give the choice of content permission to users. The fact is that this will allow them to consume more traffic than is laid down in the economic model. In Netflix, you can choose several quality options on your computer, so one hour of FullHD video will spend 3 GB of data, for 4K resolution it will be 7 GB.
In the difference in data consumption, you will see the answer to the question why streaming services do not want to add support for high resolution, for example, in the same “Kinopoisk HD” from Yandex de facto there is no 4K resolution (the exception is a number of Samsung and LG TVs, they have such permission began to appear in the second half of 2020). The more traffic is consumed, the more the company will pay bills, the load on the infrastructure will also increase, and the maximum service capacity will drop. The explanation that buyers do not want to see 4K does not hold water, as people are willing to pay for a high-quality picture in high definition. Netflix’s experience as the largest streaming platform in the world suggests that such a resolution is in demand. Take a look at Netflix plans, they differ in content resolution.
In fact, the service offers to pay more for high-definition content, but you also get more devices, which means it can be considered a family plan.
For comparison, you can take “Kinopoisk HD” from Yandex, where the maximum resolution for most of the content is only FullHD.
By default, the service sets a lower resolution so that you do not load the company’s infrastructure. As a subscriber to several services, I can note that Netflix is a cut above Kinopoisk HD in terms of picture quality, however, Apple TV + outside of Apple smartphones also gives an amazingly high-quality, detailed picture. And here’s the time to talk about the fact that services often try to decide for the user what and how to show him.
The quality of the picture directly depends on the capabilities of the screen, and this is not only the resolution! Trying to play 4K content on an HD screen is a pointless task, since the limitations of the display will not give you any noticeable gain. Therefore, the assumption that you should always use the maximum video resolution, and it will give the best quality on your screen, is wrong. Ideally, when the service understands the characteristics of the device and adapts to it, but, alas, no one is doing this. In fact, fine-tuning the content only works for TVs, since all the flaws are clearly visible on them. In the global market, companies such as Samsung, LG, and, to a lesser extent, other manufacturers are actively working with streaming platforms; the situation is about the same in Russia. Adapting content for 4K TV screens affects not only content coding, but also the use of HDR capabilities, audio coding. For example, support for HDR video on smartphones is announced by many manufacturers, but there is practically no content for such devices in streaming services, they turn a blind eye to their existence. Rare exceptions only underline this rule.
Russian services look technologically quite backward, do not pay enough attention to the quality of video and sound encoding, including in their own content, which is created for a specific service. To quote Artem Ivanov, a message from the chat of our Telegram channel:
“After buying OLED Sony, which is on AndroidTV, I discovered a lot of new things for myself. I have a good home theater system and it is important for me that there is a normal 6-channel sound. So here:
1. Of all Russian online cinemas, only Netflix and Okko provide 6-channel sound on Android TV
2. Kinopoisk writes that the sound is 6-channel (when you select a track), but it’s stereo. Evie has the same bullshit. At the same time, all the forums are inundated with messages that everyone has it. Evie just doesn’t do anything, Kinopoisk promises to launch sooner or later.
3. Okko’s image quality is very unstable. The backgrounds are sometimes obviously undeveloped, although there is a 700 Mbps internet connection with serious enterprise grade equipment and only wired connections.
4. HDVideoBox – popular with my friends. But I could not come to terms with its glitches and the fact that no one guarantees that the picture will go decent.
5. KinoPub – I tried it, but my provider obviously cuts the proxies they use. I’m just tired of dealing with him. I know that on other platforms it works stably, but on AndroidTV – not a fig
I honestly tried to pay for content. As a result, I pay for Okko, Evie and Kinopoisk, but when we watch movies as a family, Rutrecker is our best friend. Moreover, 40-70 gig rips swing at a speed of 700 Mbps rather quickly. “
This comment touches on an important point that is obviously ignored by Russian streaming services. For example, using Apple TV + or Netflix, you get a high-quality picture (although you cannot choose the quality for each device yourself), you get the declared sound and HDR support. In Russian services, everything is very arbitrary, although there is a huge amount of content and it is in demand. Moreover, the same Topi series, downloaded from a pirate site in high resolution, looks much better on a smartphone screen than a FullHD broadcast in an application from Yandex. Exactly the same differences when viewing a file directly on the TV. And this paradox discourages me, because by paying for licensed content, you often get worse quality than pirates. It is possible that pirates are focused on the needs of people, while streaming is based on the need to save on infrastructure load. And this is an important difference between Russian business and the same Netflix, the latter does not save on this for a senior tariff plan, you get exactly the quality you pay for.
It seems that the high level of competition should force Russian streaming services to pay more attention to the technical side of video, picture and sound quality. But in fact, this does not happen. The reason is very simple, for this it is necessary to purchase a larger number of computers, moreover, expensive workstations (plus the cost of software; the higher the resolution, the more you need to pay for it – not in all cases, but this is often the case). The banal savings on investments in hardware for the service looks somehow strange, since investments in content creation by most sites are measured in much larger amounts. But as soon as you start counting the load on the infrastructure, everything falls into place.
In a private conversation, one of the top managers of a large Russian online service said that the introduction of 4K video for 10% of the library will increase the cost of the service by 10%. The more 4K content, the higher the costs. In his opinion, Russian services will resist the introduction of 4K-resolution until the last moment, as this cuts off their income. In his opinion, the situation will begin to change due to Netflix at the end of 2021, possibly a little later. The first loud announcements about the transition of new releases to 4K resolution in Russia can be expected in the fall of 2021. Then we will see an increase in the cost of services in Russia, which will be caused by a whole set of factors.
Tell us what streaming services you use, what you like and what not. How much do you think is the correct cost of their services. Perhaps someone is using pirated services because of the quality of the picture? Share your experience, it will be useful for everyone.
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