Thursday, November 6, 2008

Encoding for streaming

This is Neil Hunt, Netflix chief product officer, with some technical background on the Netflix encodes used for streaming. We get a lot of questions about this, so I'm going to go deep.

First Generation Encoding

Our first set of encodes are based on WMV3 and WMA in ASF with WMDRM10 (Janus). We chose these standards because the Janus components have been widely adopted by our CE partners such as Roku, LG Electronics, Samsung, TiVo, and of course Microsoft Xbox.

We encode most content at 500, 1000, 1600, and 2200kbps VBR, but some titles whose source quality merits it have also been encoded at 3400kbps. The highest bitrate encodes are fit into 720x480 non-square pixels (the usual 1.2 PAR for widescreen content, 0.9 PAR for 4:3), but optimum encoding at lower bitrates is achieved with fewer pixels. Encoded films are normally at 24fps to match the source, while shot-to-video and mixed material is de-interlaced to 30fps (or 25fps for PAL content).

Second Generation Encoding

The new Silverlight player (that some users are helping us test as I write) uses VC1 Advanced Profile encoding with PlayReady DRM. A key property is that each GOP header includes frame size and resolution, which allows us to assemble a stream on the fly from different bitrate encodes as your broadband bandwidth fluctuates. (Another key feature is more coverage, including Intel Macs and Firefox users.) We expect to switch completely to the new player later this year.

The VC1 encoders are more efficient than the WMV3 encoders, so we are currently encoding VC1AP at slightly lower birates: 375, 500, 1000, and 1500kbps, all square pixel. At some point we are likely to add a couple more resolutions of non-square pixel encodes capturing the original pixel-aspect-ratio of the source.

We are also re-wrapping the VC1AP encodes in WMDRM10 for CE devices, which will gradually switch to the more efficient encodes in future firmware upgrades.

High Definition Encodes

Today we have rights to deliver about 400 streams in HD (720p). More titles will be added over time. We experimented with first-generation WMV3 encodes at 4000kbps and 5500kbps, but settled on second-generation HD encodes with VC1AP at 2600kbps and 3800kbps, which extends their accessibility down to lower home broadband connections. As with SD, encodes of film material are at 24fps, and encodes of shot-to-video material are at 30fps (or 25fps for PAL), rather than the 60fps that would come from a Blu-ray disc - we judged the 60fps content as too expensive of bandwidth for now. In general, these encodes are definitively better than SD, but won't challenge well-executed Blu-ray encodes - that would require a bitrate out of reach for most domestic broadband today. We believe Moore's law will drive home broadband higher and higher enabling full 1080p60 encodes in a few years.

Stereo Audio

Today, we cannot use WMDRM to deliver AC3 or DD+ audio, which means that only stereo (delivered via WMA) is available. PCs and Macs decode the WMA, and CE players also transcode to PCM for digital connections to receivers. We could technically include multichannel audio using WMAPro, but essentially no receivers are actually capable of decoding that. We are working on solutions to deliver multichannel audio for all the streams where we have suitable source, but this won't happen in 2008 for sure.

Subtitles, Closed Captions, and Alternate Soundtracks

All these features are desired for future releases. Delivering closed-captions via the Silverlight player is probably closest, but it won't be 2008 either.


Our best sources are electronically delivered mezzanine files, or high quality D5 tapes, and the highest bitrate encodes of these sources really look as good or better than DVDs. Digibeta tape sources can also generate good encodes, but some sources just are not as good, regardless of the bitrate used for encoding. We also encode from DV tape and even on occasion from DVDs. We get HD sources for many titles, even if we only have the rights to stream SD. The HD sources permit a better SD encode than working from SD soures.

One class of sources has been derived from 24fps film, interlaced to i60 for TV broadcast, and then decimated to p30, and comes with restrictions on reprocessing. This results in frames that are even-odd interlaces of adjacent film frames, and a 4/5 cadence motion jerkiness. We are actively working to re-acquire these sources in better form.

Delivered Quality

Our first-gen PC streaming player uses 1-4 bars to represent the delivered quality, representing 500, 1000, 1600, and 2200 kbps. The 3400kbps encodes are represented as 4 bars. The player measures bandwidth once at the start of the title, and chooses a bitrate for delivery that has at least 40% headroom from the measured speed.

The Roku, LG, and Samsung, players use four dots during buffering in the same way, and Xbox has 4 bars just like the PC player. The TiVo player has a similar display, but with 10 thin bars.

The Silverlight player is currently more opaque, since it picks the stream to deliver dynamically. If your connection slows, as the buffer empties, the player starts buffering a lower bitrate stream and switches seamlessly across. Conversely, if the buffer fills rapidly again, the player can pick a higher bitrate stream. (Note that if Outlook (or some other large application) decides to wake up and refresh your email in the middle of a movie, Silverlight might be starved of CPU and drop some frames; this may cause the player to conclude that it should switch to a lower bitrate stream that won't overload the CPU. Today, we haven't figured a reliable way to determine that the CPU is again underutilized and permit switching back up again, so my advice is to close Outlook and similar periodically expensive applications prior to playing the movie!)

Other Notes

We strive to deliver great encodes, and the encoding recipe evolves as we learn new tricks and engage new encoding technology. Since we have a variety of software and CE players in the field, we have to continue to support existing encodes for a transition period if new versions incompatible with existing players are added, until we can work with partners to upgrade firmware to support the new encodes.
One new feature that I want to add is a post-play screen that appears when a playback is stopped, so that users can easily flag when encodes fall below par, so that we can prioritize identifying and fixing issues.


  1. Thanks for the information - that's more than the customer often gets!

    One gripe I have with the Silverlight player is how it buffers compared to the old player. My connection is normally not fast at all - averaging perhaps 300kbps. The old player would "learn" the connection speed by buffering more of the movie to offer a near seamless play - the Silverlight player only appears to buffer a limited amount at any given time, which means I watch about 5 minutes of the movie and then wait about 5 minutes for buffering, over and over. The old way I could get it to buffer most of the movie while I was doing something else and then sit down and watch it all at once.

    The old player also enabled me to start watching in the middle of a buffering wait, where the Silverlight does not.

  2. This is an amazing post. Thank you for sharing!

  3. When will HD Streaming be available on the Xbox 360? I am unable to viewing anything in HD.

  4. Oh and great post! Very informative and this is one reason I love Netflix! Keep it up!

  5. Oh one more thing... what bitrate is the stereo HD and SD audio encoded in?

  6. Any news on if or when a native player will be available on PS3?

  7. Great to see this kind of transparency. This may not be on par with physical media (it really can't be), but I think this is as good or better than iTunes, and I actually know what it means (720P is very vague).

    I definitely need to upgrade my home connection to use this properly though (768/384 DSL just doesn't stream things effectively).

    It would also be nice to be able to use this on a PS3, because the XBOX360 sounds like a jet turbine during quiet parts of a movie.

  8. WMAPro would be a nice option for those with Pioneer receivers (even low end models, like mine, support it). And for those who watch on a PC that isn't connected to a receiver that supports WMAPro, the multi-channel WMAPro can be decoded to multi-channel PCM and output via HDMI (or analog cables) for a richer audio experience.

    On hardware that doesn't support WMAPro, audio will automatically fall back to 2 channel stereo.

    Seems like a strange choice to have HD quality video, and not even offer DVD quality audio.

  9. With the Silverlight streams, I experience better quality, but worse frame rates. Since I'm on the border of the 1-2 bar (on either side of 1000kpbs) I guess I'm slow, but not slow enough to dump down to the lower quality. I think I prefer the smooth, lower quality of Media Player over the jerky, higher quality frame rate of Silverlight. This is all in full screen mode.

  10. Great post, Thanks!

    I have seen some movies where the audio is out of sync with the video. Is this an encoding issue or a playback issue?

    I would also like to see playback on the PS3.

  11. I have audio sync issues when using the silverlight player and streaming Soylent Green and Westworld. I get 3 bars.... Anyone else want to comment?

  12. I'm not quite getting your understanding of telecining. 60i is 60 fields per second, which, if rendered as 60 frames per second would produce a 2:1 reduction in the height. Maybe you're doing some sort of bob deinterlace, with decimation?

    At any rate, I don't see why you would have a problem with a good adaptive Inverse Telecine on these. Am I missing something?

  13. Is it at all possible to maintain the aspect ratio of the original in the streaming version? I just tried to watch "Sleeper" on my Xbox 360 and it was a pan and scan 4:3 aspect ratio. That was pretty disappointing.

  14. I thought most WMV capable playback devices should decode 5.1 WMAPro, and output in an appropriate format just like WMA does. For example, the Xbox 360 can output Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kbps) or stereo PCM, even if the source WMV content you are playing has WMAPro 5.1. WMAPro can also cleanly down-mix a 5.1 stream to 2 channel, if needed. So, it doesn't really matter if 'no receivers are actually capable of decoding (WMAPro)'.

    So, why not supply WMAPro audio?

  15. "It would also be nice to be able to use this on a PS3, because the XBOX360 sounds like a jet turbine during quiet parts of a movie."

    You might need a new Xbox then. My 360 is just as quiet as my PS3.

  16. @Switch -- hahahahahahahhahahahhahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahah!

    Good joke!

  17. "@Switch -- hahahahahahahhahahahhahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahah!

    Good joke!"

    No Joke, he's right. As long as a 360 game isnt being played, the 360 is pretty quiet. In contrast, my PS3 is actually pretty loud when watching a Blu-ray. I must say I use a refurbed 360, so maybe MS put in quieter fans or somethin.

  18. The typical DVD is encoded around 8Mbps. So you can not even match DVD quality at this time. Throw in poor support for the current audio codec(s) and it is plain to see that you have a long way to go just to get to DVD quality.

    And what do you do with HD. You once again drop the bit rate and sacrifice quality.

    As per must companies, you lower the bar to the lowest common denominator instead of trying to raise the bar. Now is the time to be raising the bar for streaming quality when it is the easiest to do.

  19. As a Mac person who couldn't use the streaming player until recently, I was also disappointed by the prevalence of pan and scan, especially given that there's no information about instant titles' aspect ratios on the Netflix site (or, I've discovered, via the API).

    Is it reasonable to hope, as movies are re-encoded for better quality, that pan and scan will again become a thing of the past? Or that aspect ratio information will be made available as it is for discs? Thanks very much.

  20. @Anonymous:

    This is an overly simplistic. DVD using MPEG2 encoding produces inferior visual quality at significantly higher bitrates than the encoding methods described above.

    Has any work been done to characterize system requirements to decode these streams on Silverlight based playback?

    Also, is there any way to locate which streams are available in HD or to search based on encode quality or bitrate?

  21. Netflix is by far my favorite media provider. You guys are honest, transparent, constantly improving, and you deliver an incomparable product at an unbeatable price. I love the new Xbox Live distribution as I own one. Just keep doing what you're doing.

  22. Thanks for the great information.

    Would it be possible to include a toggle (an icon or a key combination) in the Silverlight player that would display/hide the current bitrate?

  23. I have a projector with a large screen and want the highest possible quality of streamed video. I have a "slow" connection and the xbox player only gives me 2 bars which is blurry video on my set up. I would love an option to select the quality I want and wait for most/all of the movie to buffer before playing.

  24. As a poster earlier stated, old DVDs were encoded at MPEG2, which is slowly being replaced by newer and efficient codecs. An HD movie encoded with a newer codec (e.g. VC1) at 8Mbps, is NOT the same as an SD movie encoded with MPEG2 at 8Mbps. Thus, a movie encoded at 3.8Mpbs in VC1 would look amazingly well and better than a DVD.

    Now if they could only encode 5.1 surround with those HD we're talking.

  25. Neil,

    What is the resolution of the 375, 500, 1000, and 1500kbps encodes? Also, will the 2600kbps and 3800kbps encodes be available via the standard Silverlight player?

  26. As a Linux (Ubuntu 8.10) user who doesn't want to run Windows it would be nice to have a Linux alternative. If you can do it for Mac OSX is seems like it should be possible without much effort for Linux.

    It is nice to see you publish some of the information about the system.

  27. I'm also interested to hear if Netflix will be coming to the PS3 any time soon.

  28. It is great that Netflix finally brought its streaming product to us Mac users. You obviously compete against iTunes and I hasten to emphasize that if you don't want to get buried by the juggernaut you must beat them at their own game:

    - subtitles
    - multichannel audio. Most macs today have optical out, for example
    - DVD extras

    You sorely need to let us Mac users buffer a relatively high percentage of the movie for those who may have slower connections

    You have done a great job with the pilot program so far, but there is still plenty of work to be done.

    And we don't use "Outlook", by the way, so that was not a good example if you want to talk to the Mac community.

  29. As a Mac user I have to say I would greatly prefer either a native or Flash player solution over having to install SIlverlight.

    I also echo the sentiments around at least indicating if a movie is Pan/Scan or not...

  30. My suggestion to your engineers:

    Make them use a mac with silverlight for a week trying to watch movies. They will soon discover that Silverlight on a mac is almost unusable -- high CPU usage, skipping, etc, much worse (if you can believe it) than flash video.

    Hanging your hat on microsoft "technology" -- with WMV and now a second time with Silverlight -- will doom you. Besides the obvious dead weight of relying on inferior technology... What kind of customers would you rather have, XBox users or Mac users?

  31. The transparency here will lead to excellent suggestions and support from your customers. Keep it up. Listen to the responses, too.

  32. We believe Moore's law will drive home broadband higher[snip!]

    Way to misunderstand the meaning of Moore's Law. :-/

    And yeah, it is a real pity you've hitched yourself to the Microsoft technology bandwagon rather than using real standards like H.264 and AAC. Remember, using real standards will allow you to hit very close to 100% of your potential customer base, rather than relying on the "generosity" of a single proprietary software vendor. Well, I guess if you must wrap everything with Digital Restrictions Management ... although, if it can be seen and heard ...

  33. This venture is doomed to fail! WMV? Silverlight? Are you kidding? Isn't it about time for Netflix to grow up?

    NBC was paid by Microsoft to use this technology for the '08 Olympics - NBC abandoned the technology as soon as Olympics were over. MLB used Silverlight for the same reason - Microsoft subsidized the project. Did you read the news last week? MLB is abandoning Silverlight for 2009 season in favor of Flash.

    Netflix is marrying itself to yet another also-ran technology from Microsoft. This should be a fun train wreck to watch!

  34. i'm a new netflix user and a mac dude too. maybe i'm luck or have low expectations, but the quality of the video i'm streaming is pretty good. i watch on my macbook pro 2.2 ghz, and have roadrunner in columbia, sc.

    my _only_ beef is closed captioning. my wife is legally deaf and she can't enjoy tv w/o it. the sound quality doesn't seem to be as good either, but i dunno for sure.

    i don't know what pan/scan is, but on one movie i streamed, the audio was off by about 2 seconds, and the movie was scaled horizontally, yuck.

  35. I have a fast connection at 4mbps and I can only get 2 bars max on the xbox 360 netflix stream quality. Does anyone else have this problem? I've triple tested my connection and nothing else is running. I'm just wondering if it's because netflix is getting hit hard with everyone watching stuff.

  36. As a poster above said, an "option to select the quality I want and wait for most/all of the movie to buffer before playing" would be fantastic.

  37. what about non-intel based macs?

  38. Thank you for the detailed information. I'd like to add another vote for an option to allow low speed customers to opt for higher quality and just deal with the buffering delay.

  39. The Silverlight player seems to require a significantly greater amount of CPU horsepower than the old one. I have two different machines on which I mainly use Netflix; one's a notebook with a Core Duo T2500 processor and ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 video card. The other's a desktop with a Core 2 Duo E7200 and onboard Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100 video chipset. Both machines have 2GB of RAM and are running Windows Vista SP1 (Ultimate on the notebook, Home Premium on the desktop).

    The notebook has occasional problems with stuttering and shearing (like v-sync issues) using the Silverlight player; the desktop is just fine. The notebook had no such problems with the old player, even when manually set to the highest bitrate. Curiously, I don't see the notebook CPU maxed out when playing videos though - between the two cores I get about 60-80% utilisation on both cores playing full-screen video at the LCD's native 1680x1050 resolution.

    Hopefully these early teething problems with the Silverlight player will go away as you optimise it for more systems. My notebook is hardly an underpowered one even today - it's only two years old and was an absolute top-of-the-line machine for its day. Once the beta ends, I'm confident that many Netflix users will be trying to Watch Instantly on significantly less powerful machines, so you're going to have to cater to them.

    I'm very glad to hear you're working on closed captioning / subtitles though, and hope you'll move these up the priority list.

  40. Ugh. Silverlight is WORSE than Flash? I thought Flash was a lousy solution as it has so much baggage. Sad to hear that the spanking new Silverlight is equally bad. Seems they need to look into hardware acceleration options that Apple provides. After all, Quicktime can play H.264 without much FANfare.

    So, did you pick Microsoft because the content owners dictated it? If not, could you use something like OpenDRM?

  41. Im very disapointed in net flix. I have the xbox 360 and i can only get 3 bars and must suffer with horrible quality because whoever designed this crap are idiots. Why wouldnt they allow the option to choose your quality and allow you to buffer as long as you want up to completion. And for that matter, why not allow you to just DL the movie like on XBOX marketplace. The selection also sucks very badly. Hmmm, not to good.

  42. I'm also looking forward to there being ratio options other than pan-and-scan versions.

  43. You complainers are killing me. NetFlix is adding more value without charging anything, and you're whining about it.


    1) If you've got a slow computer, upgrade, or just get the regular physical disc. Maybe digital delivery isn't for you.

    2) If you've got slow internet, see my comments on #1.

    3) If you don't like Silverlight, too bad.

  44. Please allow users with a slower connection to select a bitrate, and then buffer. It is my observation that Silverlight doesn't buffer but a small portion of the program and then it stops. I don't mind wating 15-30 minutes (or so) to buffer a full length movie, in that I'm going to wait that much or more staring at the red screen every 5 minutes.

  45. Bought a Roku but can't get it to connect to my wireless Belkin modem/cable broadband. There is no telephone support, only a phone menu that suggests going to the website, and on the website you find a FAQ and search that is a joke. The onscreen menu features the Netflix logo, and Netflix is recommending this device. If Netflix doesn't start its own Help site for these Instant Watch boxes, a lot of angry customers are going to feel they got ripped off by Netflix as well as the box manufacturer.

  46. netflix is available on a ps3 with third party software called play on works very well here is a link free for 21 days 30 bucks after works good also gives you hulu and youtube and espn

  47. fantastic to get a look behind the curtain. thanks for sharing in so much detail. so far I'm enjoying the movie selection and quality of streaming via Xbox 360, although I have noticed a little too much motion blur (eg. LA Confidential in letterbox with 3 bars). keep up the great work!

  48. How about non-streaming downloads since 1080P streaming is so many years away? I'd simply like the current mail-in process enhanced so the Internet can be used to download DVDs. That way I could watch 1080P without buying a Blu-Ray player and I'd get quicker turnaround after I see a movie. Oh, and Netflix could charge more if I want more movies stored on my PC.

    E.g., I'd like to have 3 movies at a time (depending on monthly plan) stored on my PC at 1080P quality. When I watch one and "return" it, the next one in my queue would be downloaded, presumably overnight.

  49. There are SERIOUS audio-video sync problems with the current service. Having a brand new imac and fast cable internet (in NYC), so it is not a hardware/connection issue on my end.

    I have noticed that it occurs due to Silverlight changing between video quality. Videos will start streaming in a lower quality setting and then three seconds in it switches to the high quality and right then the audio is off 5-10 seconds, and never recovers. If the user could choose their quality setting, this would be resolved. And if a quality was chosen that did not match one's internet connection, then one would just have to allow it to buffer or switch to a lower setting. WE, the USERS, should have this control. Not the software.

    Otherwise, this is a smart idea and is exciting.. just give us users more control over our experience. It is frustrating to want to have a nice evening watching a movie, only to have a piece of software think its doing the right thing, but only making the video unwatchable.

  50. Alien in fullscreen...Really?! Not only do you guys seemingly have little QA going on with the encoding quality, you aren't even bothering with encoding widescreen content?

  51. I appreciate sharing some of the implementation details here. I'm generally impressed with Netflix. claims my cablemodem connection is running at 7227 KB/s yet I've never gotten more than three bars of quality from my LG BD300 player. About half the time at night I get one bar, even though speedtest usually reports my connection is running between 3-5 MB/s.

    I've only had the player a couple days -- is it possible the Netflix servers are overloaded by new holiday purchases? Or are there other bottlenecks besides my local ISP connection?

  52. excited to check this out on an intel mac! thanks for the option!!

  53. As Barton said, it would be great to see a linux version of your streaming service. ;)

  54. Major audio echos in second episode of 30rock. So far, opt-in has been frustrating due to audio quality concerns, and inability to go back to original config.

  55. Just wanted to say THANK YOU. The new Mac player is brilliant on my Intel iMac with cable modem using Tiger and Safari. I could play movies using Parallels Desktop and Windows XP, but the native Mac player is much cleaner and buffers less often. I tested an episode of "Heroes" without interruption, and quality was outstanding. Well worth the wait. Again, many thanks.

  56. I enjoy the service on my PC and XBOX, but would love to see it make it to the PS3.

  57. I am unable to watch instantly on my Mac because the audio sync problem is so severe. It is more than just a second off from the picture. I've tried different movies, different hardware and different internet connections (at home and at work) and had the same problem.

  58. Linux for me too.

  59. I am thoroughly dissatisfied with the Silverlight player. I've been Instant Watching for several months on my PC and my biggest complaint had been with the required IE. The zoom feature in IE is atrocious, so I was eager to try Silverlight with Firefox. What a mistake.

    I'm consistently getting half the performance I used to get. I always show a high quality connection, but I now have lower frame rates, increased pixelation, continuous tearing and can only watch at half the size I used to. Watching movies now is a frustrating mess. I'd opt out in a moment, if I could.

    I am extremely dissatisfied that Netflix and Silverlight have ruined my streaming experience.

  60. The silverlight player works wonderfully on newer computers. However you really dropped the ball by not stating the huge jump in CPU requirements with a opt-in beta with NO opt-out option. In fact on the beta sign up page you still had a like to the 1.2Ghz requirements of the Windows Media setup.

    This was a huge disappointment for me and other who have older, dedicated media computers who have no problem with HULU etc. Silverlight is grossly inefficient because you decided to sidestep video acceleration issues for a "quick fix" from Microsoft.

    Please state clearly that Silverlight requires a 1.83GHz dual-core Intel processor and consider that quite a few people are still running computers that were made before the dual core era.

  61. Thanks for the info on your streaming. I'm using a MacBook Pro and Silverlight works great, but I will reiterate what "Matt" said about the buffering. Don't get me wrong, Silverlight does a great job of buffering. But I was wondering if there could be some user control options, like what happenes when you right click on a Flash Video as I would like to control two options.

    First is image quality. As you stated, Silverlight assembles the stream on the fly as my broadband fluctuates. I'd like the option to stop that, and choose the static option of a higher image quality and a longer wait time.

    Second is the buffer. If my broadband has no hiccups, the buffer will usually stay ahead of the play marker and play the video through, but that is a rare occasion when I want to watch a movie at 3:00 AM. I'd like the option to choose a longer buffer time to cache more of the movie. If 50% or 75% of the movie were buffered before it started playing, I think it would remove any additional buffer screens.

    If the users could have control of these options it would help all of us. Those of us who have ADD and want to watch the movie NOW, and those of us (like me) who are willing to wait an hour for an uninterrupted, high quality instant movie to watch.

    Thanks for your efforts, love your service... exceopt for that long list of missing/unavailable DVDs in my queue (it shouldn't take 2+ years to get replacements) but that is another topic.

  62. I am a huge fan of, and evangelist for, Netflix, I have been so for years, and I expect to remain so for the forseeable future. Your DVD rental service is top-notch.

    However, until Netflix offers streaming movies viewable in a standard web browser without installing pernicious malware like Silverlight, it would be better not to offer that feature at all.

  63. bblackmoor, you realize that Silverlight is a development platform, like Adobe's Flash? It can no way be misconstrued as malware.

  64. I would like to see more transparency regarding the future of PC support and if there is a future, the technical requirements. The PC is an off-the-shelf one-box solution for IP streaming, home media collections (photo, music, video,), Sirius, XM, etc.

    Why must we buy more boxes and more TVs and amps to we have the enough ports?

  65. Very disappointing - tearing and unwatchable on a MacBook Pro 2.33 Core 2 duo, and an Acer with athlon 64, so it's not processor power or platform. Internet connection is fine. BOO. Now how do I get rid of this mess?

  66. I have to add to those troubled by the abysmal video-audio sync problems with Silverlight. I have a well endowed iMac with cable speed internet connections, and I'm experiencing audio-video sync displacements of several minutes. Great concept, but the movies are simply unwatchable. Please do something to fix this before someone else comes out with something better and kills Netflix. Thanks.

  67. I've signed on for testing the streaming. I have a 22M down and 2M up connection. And I've had nothing but problems.

    The last two days have been great (3/4 bars on my 360), but today, 1 bar... AT the same time (with no body online) I do a speed test... 21M reported down... 1.8M up... Yet NetFlix keeps reporting me as too slow for any good content. I'm streaming high(er)-def off hulu right now flawlessly. And a few other HD streams I know of that are often tough to pull, all without a hitch. But yet only 1 bar on netflix. They seriously need to fix their detection system.

    Until they do, or offer us the ability to just pick the speed we want (and suffer if we choose one too strong), I am likely going to cancel my membership.

    I'll watch a program on 2, 3 & 4 look great. But 1 is unwatchable... Maybe my equipment is too good but... I doubt that.

  68. I'm having problems with the audio & video being way out of sync on my iMac, OS 10.5.5, using Safari 3.2.1. Also, computer either goes into sleep mode every 10 or 15 minutes, or with that turned off, a screensaver. I don't normally use a screensaver so this is puzzling. Another oddity: the window collapses and the movie pauses.

    Till now, we've been using a Windows PC to Watch Instantly. Unfortunately, the last time we tried to Watch Instantly, we got a message telling us we had to download the new Silverlight player, which we did. Wrong move! We could stream movies fine with the old player. But with the Silverlight, we're suddenly getting out of sync audio/video, just like with the Mac. After ten minutes, Computer went into sleep mode. Window collapsed & movie paused, as with Mac. We were able to adjust computer settings to make this problem go away, but only with the Windows PC.

    It's disappointing to be forced into using this inferior player, when the other player worked so much better--with the Windows platform. I would like to see Netflix offer both players to Windows users, so that if one doesn't work, we can DL & use the other player. Naturally, I'd also like to see an improvement on Silverlight, so we can watch with the Mac as well.

    Thanks for reading!

  69. what a total waste. i subscribed to netflix just because i wanted to have the streaming capability at work (my job is making sure a building stays put all night, hard to stay awake). i loved the old player. it allowed me to buffer a large ammount of a film due to my weak connection in my office (public wifi, not great but all i have). usually it took less than 5min to start and i'd have near flawless playback.

    now comes silverlight... simply not usable. it won't buffer worth crap and once the movie hits the end of the buffer it sits saying it's configuring for playback, but never moves until i refresh the whole window, then i get another 5-10 minutes of viewing.

    i did call netflix to find out what could be done. basically, to provide better quality to people who have higher connection speeds, they're gonna toss everyone else out the window. the player isn't supposed to buffer, no matter how long you wait, and requires a higher connection. those of us who were happy with the old player can either suffer with the new one or cancel our service. since i spent more time tonight trying to get this to work than i did enjoying the service, i think i know what i'm going to do.

    come on netflix, give everyone a real shot at using your service or you're going to lose the customers you seem to be discriminating against.

  70. So far, So good! I think if it was a business decision to go with silverlight to get this out the door quickly because of DRM etc... so be it. But I agree with others that in the long run standards will dictate a more open system. This isn't so much a ding on Microsoft - the same would be said if you picked Real or Apple. Limiting your options - especially when you are counting on a rapidly changing economy and market in dangerous. I wouldn't tie myself to Apple, Linux or Microsoft. Next thing your know - everyone will be on their Googlephones and won't beable to use your service. :)

  71. Great information! I always like to see a company that is moving towards making the customer experience more enjoyable.

    That said, I'm hoping to see an firmware update for the PS3 that has Netflix on it. Also I'm almost fresh out of luck because I can only watch movies on my windows laptop, no such luck for my Ubuntu Linux desktop or my Mythbuntu Media PC.

    Thanks for all your hard work Netflix. I'm looking forward to more enhancements to a great service.

  72. Edwin,

    I don't use Linux on my desktop, so i can't speak from experience about this:

    "Moonlight is an open source implementation of Silverlight, primarily for Linux..."

  73. I watched my first movie yesterday and the audio was more than 10s out of sync at about 1/4 into the movie....

    I would focus on fixing the out of sync issue first because no matter how good the quality, this glitch takes away all the fun...

  74. I just switched to the Silverlight player today and ran into severe audio sync problems within 10 seconds. I can't figure out how to clear it up. My audio is about 10s behind the video - really any difference more than about 200ms is a severe problem.

    I do appreciate the ability to play with Firefox, and agree with lots of other feedback here about giving viewer control of quality & buffering. I hope those upgrades will get some attention. But if I can't get this audio sync cleared up, the Watch Instantly feature will be unusable to me.

  75. i'm very surprised no one has touched the audio sync problem yet. i'm still having issues with it, and the problem has been known for weeks but remains unmentioned by Netflix themselves... what gives?

  76. I think audio sync is a device problem, not a stream problem -- unless the original media was delivered with sync issues in the first place.

    I'm streaming to Windows Internet Explorer (sometimes), and mostly to the Xbox, and have never had this problem. However, I must say that Netflix streaming is the killer app to upgrade from 1.5 Mbps to something fatter.

    Anyway, this quote:
    "One class of sources has been derived from 24fps film, interlaced to i60 for TV broadcast, and then decimated to p30, and comes with restrictions on reprocessing."

    ...could be re-stated as:

    1. Load gun.
    2. Aim at foot.
    3. Pull trigger.
    4. Pull trigger.
    5. Pull trigger.


  77. "One class of sources has been derived from 24fps film, interlaced to i60 for TV broadcast, and then decimated to p30, and comes with restrictions on reprocessing."

    That's the quote that got me too. The video has been de-interlaced to 30p and still needs to be "decimated." 60i and 30p are the same frame rate. Decimation would output 24p.

    w. caulfield

  78. i was watching heroes season 2 episode 9 in NETFLIX instant play and noticed the out-of-sync problem worsening as the episode progressed, oddly enough, when i tried to restart the episode, i noticed the out-of-sync problem present in the beginning of the episode, in fact the more i navigated the episode, the worse the problem became, the cause is most likely a video quality switch, again, no user controls makes it impossible to try to fix the problem, very frustrating thing to endure, ruins the whole experience...

  79. Since I was forced to load Silverlight on Jan1 my player is getting an Error 1001. I was told to call Microsoft.. I did but I am now a number and haven't recieved any email or call (when i was told i would have a response in 24 hrs) I'm ready to cancel my Netfix. This is only happening on one of my two laptops. If I google the error there are SEVERAL folks out there with the same issues after downloading from Netflix or the MS web site. WHY ISN'T NETFLIX helping with this issue? Do they want to loose business?

  80. Subtitle and Closed Captioning Support is a MUST HAVE! I can't believe this feature isn't available. It's seriously annoying to be watching an English language film with sections of it in a foreign language and NONE of it showing subtitles for it.

  81. Yeah, I was forced to go Silverlight 1/1, evidently. If you shift-ctl-alt-d, or v, the stats show 25 dropped frames/sec. I too was told to call MS. Nothing resolved. Works fine on my macbookpro, but not on a state of the art PC?????? What a pain. When will this get resolved? I don't care who's court it's in...I pay for this, dig? Fix it. Please.

  82. The "on the fly" encoding for VC-1 is TERRIBLE. Netflix, please sue Microsoft or upgrade your streaming servers. I've had to go back to my original player without HD because it's simply unwatchable. I'm glad they're "more efficient" for you, but a month of complaints should be enough to get your attention.

  83. Thanks!

    You said you settled on second-generation HD encodes with VC1AP at 2600kbps and 3800kbps.

    One question on this. Are all HD movies encoded at both rates? Or do you choose which bitrate based on the content?

    If both, does the decision on which bitrate to use just depend on your connection bandwidth, as with the 1-4 dots for SD?

  84. What is measure of the delivered quality (speed) in a Samsung BD-P2550? I have 13 bars at the begining of the movie

  85. Is there anything you or I can do about the audio desyncing? I have problems with audio sync on about 50% of the content viewed with silverlight.

  86. It's great that you can Watch Instantly on macs, etc., but why, as I've posted, were we forced to SL 2 which simply doesn't work correctly. I have 2.2ghz, 256meg vid, and I get dropped frames (10-20sec sometimes), I called your tech support, could tell the guy had heard it a thousand times, and was referred to MS. Guess how far that got? FIX IT. Is there a young lawyer out there who wants to specialize in class action? Here's your chance. I still don't give a damn if it's MS or Netflix. The old player was fine on PC. Give us the choice, anything. This is absurd business practice. I'll mention again: we are paying you. This ain't no favor, amigos. I loved your service prior to 1/1/09. Loyal customer who talked up your company. Now, I may as well watch streaming crap ad nauseam on NBC...or read a book.

  87. Viewing high quality video on netflix seems to lead to the audio sync problem. When are they going to fix this problem! Get on it netflix or your going to start losing customers!

  88. No prior experience with Netflix. Purchased Samsung BRD 2550 player and have experienced ZERO problems with buffering, throughput or sync. It's been perfect and I'm intending on continuing a subscription after my free two week trial expires.

  89. It is interesting to see comments on problems with people are having. They seem to mostly happen on what should be a more powerful platform, a home computer.

    I have to echo the comment of others. I am using a samsung 2500 and so far it has been excellent. in speed of starting and staying in sync.

    The only problem I had (once) was a tv episode that started with music on but no voices. At first I thought it was an artistic effect, because I was getting part of the audio. Anyway, I just restarted the episode (heroes season 1) and it worked fine.

    To me the video quality of what it says is HD in the download quality section is mixed. Areas of high detail are quite good hi-def but flat areas and areas with subtle gradations crawl with artifacts. If there was some way to lose some of the fine detail to clean up flat areas, I would prefer that compromise...but I suppose that is a deep function of the compression codec.

  90. Silverlight is awful, I can't watch a movie on my pc or laptop. The buffering seems to take forever. Hopefully someone from Netflix will actually read this. I have seen so many complaints.

  91. The whole 'NBC dumps Silverlight' myth was debunked a long time ago. NBC didn't dump Silverlight. They used it for the Olympics, period. NFL (not NBC) chose Flash before Silverlight was released, so they didn't "dump" Silverlight either.

  92. Great news on captioning! This means I'll watch English-language releases :)

  93. I've been a subscriber for a little bit now. I just got my 20/20 Mb Fios connection yesterday, and I am having problems with the streaming. I am running a 9.9 quad 64, 8 gigs 1066, and a 2 gig video with gig ethernet. Now.. if you could explain the reason why my streaming looks like the quality of a 5 year olds crayon drawing before disconnecting me and telling me my connection is bad, I'd consider NOT calling and asking for a much deserved refund.

  94. Sync problems here, too. What is eyebrow raising is that I can play one movie and have no sync problems, and then- without even closing the browser- play another movie and have it be out of sync by at least 20 seconds. (Of course, I've also tried closing the browser and even restarting the machine, and some movies will be out of sync). And it's always the same movies that are out of sync.

    This is telling me that it is not a problem on my end- the machine, software, and internet connection all work fine.

    FWIW, I'm using a MacBook Pro with the latest OS, latest player, and a cable modem.

  95. The thing that bothers me the most is a simple observation.

    First of all the subtitles information is already available in the data they are converting for the instant service. Someone decided that the data was not important and removed it… I would imagine this was a conscious decision by a person (or group) who are smart enough to understand the ramifications of removing the data from the final product. Hulu made a decision to keep the subtitle and Closed Captioning data in the stream as does Amazon and many other online video providers. This really is not a new product it is merely a repackaging of something that has been available for several years. It looks like Netflix decided to try and be more competitive by reducing the bandwidth required to deliver their product. Cut out languages, extras, subtitles, etc...

    The Roku, Xbox 360, Tivo, and other video on demand capable devices are already designed to handle either Subtitles or Closed Caption data. The problem is the folks at Netflix who are encoding the data. Their encoding processes is stripping the Subtitles and Closed Caption data from the final video stream. They need to modify their encoding scheme to allow for either Closed Caption data or subtitles to be retained in the final data stream. As I understand it Closed Caption data is the easiest to retain and subtitling would require more effort/bandwidth.

    The good news is that Netflix has a number of ready examples of how to do this. Virtually all of its competitors are already using an encoding method that retains CC data.


  96. Well I wrote Netflix and I got a reply from a lady who forwarded my question on to Netflix's public relations person "Amy Bigmouth Public Relations".

    I'm not joking that is the title Netflix's uses for it's public affairs email..

    Anyway, I got a fairly boiler plate response to my question and I'm fairly curtain Amy Bigmouth is an email dump for questions like these. I've been round-filed...

    If Netflix is really working on this why can't she provide some status information? Are we 95% complete… 1%??? Or perhaps 0% complete because we have not even looked at the question…?

    What the heck are the encoders at Netflix doing anyway? How hard can it be? I know a lot of folks who have minimal talents and regularly produce DVDs, VCD, etc… with CC data included. It's the 21st century, jump aboard Netflix... or hire someone who can get the job done… :O)

    Anyway, here is what Amy Bigmouth said….

    -----Original Message-----
    From: []
    Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 2:26 PM
    To: Loren
    Cc: amy bigmouthpr com
    Subject: RE: Fwd: Roku/Netflix

    January 20, 2009

    Dear Loren:

    Thank you for your email. As per your request, it was forwarded to us here at Netflix for review. Know that we appreciate you taking the time to write.

    Although captioning is not something that is currently available through our free instant watching functionality, it is something that we’re working to add. We do not currently have an estimated time that it will be available but please know it should available in future. In the meantime, if you’d like to utilize captioning feel free to add the disc to your queue to receive it via USPS.

    Again, we appreciate you taking your time to write. We appreciate your feedback. It has been forwarded for review.


    Kristy Grey

    Netflix, Inc


    From: Loren

    Date: January 20, 2009 11:06:25 AM PST


    Subject: Roku/Netflix

    Customer Service,

    I recently signed up for Netflix premium service because they offer a fairly comprehensive service including the ability to watch movies instantly through either my XBox 360 or our new Roku video device. I purchased the service and the Roku device as a gift for my wife who is deaf and really enjoys watching movies.

    We first tried the XBox 360 and found that there was no button for subtitles. Later we connected the Roku and found the same problem. We spent several hours trying to figure out what was wrong and eventually discovered that although the Roko and XBox 360 are capable of decoding subtitles Netflix video streams do not include the necessary data.

    However, we did notice that foreign films had the Subtitle data encoded directly in the feed (open captioning). Our question is this... Would Netflix be willing to create a deaf/hard of hearing instant queue section that includes open captioning in the same way that foreign films are captioned? Open captioning does not require any decoding and does not effect bandwidth because the captioning is overlaid directly on the movie itself. My wife and I watch open caption movies at the theater on special days and this would be great if Netflix adopted the same approach. This may be something that could be done quickly while Netflix works on a more streamlined solution.

    This is what the open caption looks like on the Roku box playing the foreign move "The Orphanage"

    Roku playing Orphanage

    Please forward this idea to the folks at Netflix or Roku who are working on this issue.

    There are a lot of people in the deaf/hard of hearing community who are very interested in how this is being handled. We would really like to see some progress soon. This might be a way for Netflix to show support for our community while it works for a better solution.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.



  97. Amazon, Hulu, and other on demand services have been including the CC data in their streams.

    Hulu offers deaf CC (read about it)

    Netflix removes the CC data for no apparent reason.

    Why can't Netflix just ask Amazon and Hulu how they are able to stream the data to the Roku, Tivo, and all the other available on demand video players?

    It is already being done by them, why can't Netflix do it the same way?

    Thanks for your reply.


  98. Also, what about adding a deaf section with Open Captions?

    Why wont Netflix consider doing this? Netflix does this for foreign films so that hearing people can enjoy the movie and understand what is being said.

    Why cant Netflix provide Open Caption versions of some of the more popular films on their instant queue so that deaf people can actually watch the movie?

    This does not involve a huge technical lift as the subtitles are encoded directly on the film in the same manner that is presently used for the foreign films.

    What is the official Netflix response to this question?



  99. Will we be able see movies with Microsoft's Media Center in the future?

  100. Please fix audio out of sync problems in "Fingerprints" and "Tiptoes"


  101. The information here is helpful, but I think some comparison with the competition would be instructive as well. Comcast OnDemand streams HD movies (through various premium movie channels) at 1080i with Dolby Digital audio, and the overall experience is noticably superior to the Netflix streams at 720p in stereo audio (through a Samsung BD2500 and using the same high speed network connection). Of course, Netflix's movie selection is much better, which is why I stopped subscribing to all those premium movie channels, and the quality available through Bluray playback certainly exceeds anything that Comcast streams. Nevertheless, there is plenty of room for improvement in the streaming service. Also, to echo a comment I have seen frequently, a note or tag attached to movies that are available for streaming in HD would be nice as well.

  102. The VC-1 coding standard used by Netflix expands on many previous standards and incorporates all the elements of the MPEG-2 Systems layer which was started in 1988 and was established as ISO-IEC 13818-1 in 1994. Luckily the people who decided on this standard reserved space for Closed Captioning and alternate language text to be encoded. This means that all the data contained in the MPEG-2 system layer is being encoded by Netflix into their Instant watch service.

    Or in very simple terms the data area where CC should be is empty. If CC were added to this data area there would be no increase in bandwidth requirements because the data is already being transmitted it is just unformatted.

    If you are technically inclined you might enjoy reading more about the standard that is being used by Netflix for our Instant Watch feature.

    Microsft’s description of the VC1 encoding standard

    It is also important to note that it would be extremely difficult (impossible) to find a top-dollar hardware encoder which does not include the ability to add Closed Caption data to the output. I’d imagine Netflix has spent a fair amount of money on their equipment. I would be surprised if they don’t have equipment capable of adding the CC data to the stream.


    Also, if you are interested in TV encoding read more here:

    TV Encoding

  103. The Silverlight player doesn't work for me all (AMD Athlon 3000+, 1 gig of memory and an ATI 9000 video board).

    XBOX 360 and premium ($63/month) work most of the time but overall most of the "HD" selections look like SD to me. The only movie that looked like HD was "Pan's Labryinth" I'm going to buy a Samsung 2500, so I hope the HD selection improves.

  104. woot beta testing microsoft's swill! From happy customer to P.O'd in 12 hours of forced conversion to Silverlight.

  105. If silverlight is the change you made to the xbox 360 then change it back. It's seems rediculous that I am able to watch an episode of macguyver on YouTube from my iPhone in higher quality than through my xbox cabled to my cable Internet. If this is the future of media then we are all doomed.

  106. This is my first and last month for Netflix, which I joined to instant watch. After watching streaming video on the Asian sites, silverlite definitely sucks big time. Maybe it's time Netflix cut it's ties with Microhard and hired some overseas help to become a quality provider.

  107. I am desperate. When I try to stream Instant Viewing from my Netflix queue - I keep getting this error: "Individualization failed. Unab;le toplayback protected (DRN) content. Error 8152." I have a iMac Intel 10.4. Re-installed Silverlight 3 times, tossed out the damaged fonts, etc. to no avail. Could you please address this error for us Mac users?

  108. While I appreciate this technical description of what's going on, here's why I won't be a Netflix customer yet:

    1. I am in a rural area and have no hope of getting anything more than 1 Mbps second down anytime soon.

    2. 1 Mbps would be fine if I could download the movie overnight to watch the next day. This could just happen in the background.

    3. I am not interested in less than 1080i or p.

    4. I am not interested in not receiving surround audio.

    If I wanted crappy HD video I'd just stick with DirecTV.

  109. Even though the Silverlight screening is pretty decent in resolution and quality on most systems it is NOT COLOR MANAGED. Why is this important? Well microsoft windows is not color managed but instead relies on each application do do color management. In my case I have a so called wide gamut or AdobeRGB display and silverlight streaming looks horribly oversaturated. Flash streaming on the other hand has removed this problem in version 10. Most users do not experience this problem since their computers are sRGB or on Max OS X the OS is color managed. A lot of new higher end monitors sold for photo enthusiasts are Wide Gamut and a lot of us still need\want to use windows. Microsoft has provided resources for incorporating color management into any applications and at least from scanning the code very briefly should be available for silverlight. At least make this an option for us... Any comments will be appreciated. Please don't tell me the solution is to get a Mac.

  110. I canceled my account about 2 weeks after switching to the silverlight player. It just was awful. I'd be 10 minutes into a movie and it would stop to buffer (for several minutes). The old player never did this. And its not my connection because hulu shows movies in higher rez without a glitch. What surprised me though was how resigned customer service was to not fixing the problem. I think they realize that Silverlight is bad and there isn't much they can do about it. I have to say it was rather bizarre that there was zero effort to keep me as a customer.

  111. Since you changed the player my picture quality has deteriorated to a point that I no longer enjoy watching online. My computer will crash and the picture is boxy. It really sucks.

  112. Many Starz Play titles are not deinterlaced properly. A great example is "Kiss of Death." I tried watching it on Starz On Demand with my Time Warner Cable. It was unwatchable, I believe due to it still being interlaced with the wrong field dominance. I then tried watching it on Netflix - same exact problem. I've noticed this on other titles with Netflix, and it's always from Starz. People on the Roku forum have also noticed this.

  113. Not sure if anyone reads this blog, but I just don't know where else to report this "bug"...

    "The Interpreter" on my LG BD-300 and LG 42" LCD does not show up as a 2.35 anamorphic aspect ratio. It is instead 1.78 (HDTV 16x9) and the faces of the actors are stretched vertically to fill the screen, instead of being letterbox. Please, look into this... Thanks!

  114. I get an error when I try and use the player on a machine running Windows 7 Beat (and the version of IE that comes with it). It's error code 8807 and says that I need to enable Silverlight application storage to watch the movie. And it gives a list of instructions on how to do that. But the instructions don't work.

  115. Another Mac user experiencing dropped video. I have a fast FiOS connection (19.5Mbps just now on Speakeasy's test), a 2.2GHz Intel Mac with 2.5GB of RAM and have no problems watching other streaming sources (e.g., Hulu).

    Yet on NetFlix I get frequent freezes of video. Frequent as in every few minutes. And it's not an issue of the processor not keeping up because it happens on scenes with little motion, while scene changes happen right away (and then will freeze).

    Seems to me that it is not buffering adequately and I can't understand that. Even if I pause the movie while I make popcorn or something, it won't buffer ahead very far and I return to the same freezes.

    Really pretty poor performance and it keeps me from using NetFlix or upgrading my account to the next level.

  116. >>We get a lot of questions about this, so I'm going to go deep.

    That's what she said.

  117. I don't know if anyone at netflix reads these posts but I'll still leave my input.
    I am quite satisfied with most of netflix's services. The exception is the recent video streaming. Having a relatively slow DSL connection(up to 3.0 mbps; actual 1.5-1.6)my video quality rates 1 or 2 bars on homepage. If only I could manually select the quality and allow as much time as needed to buffer, I would be completly satisfied. Is there any chance this could be added in the next player?

  118. I have the exact problem with the freezes in the video streaming and not the audio. I have comcast 3.0 mb and a macbook that is about 1 year old. maybe i need more RAM, but i doubt it. I wish Netflix would fix this issue with their streaming software.

  119. Just thought I would share, I was able to get the Silverlight player working in Google Chrome by spoofing the User Agent to mimic IE7

    for Chrome 2.x use the command line option

    --user-agent="Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 6.0)"

  120. My playback was fine before being forced to install and use Silverlight. Now it's choppy to the point of being unwatchable. Netflix should seriously consider allowing customers their choice of players - unless of course it doesn't mind losing them.

  121. My playback was fine before being forced to install and use Silverlight. Now it's choppy to the point of being unwatchable. Netflix should seriously consider allowing customers their choice of players - unless of course it doesn't mind losing them.

  122. I am very disappointed with the new Silverlight player. I have the same problems at Matt (Nov. 18, 2008). I can watch content for about 4 min. then it stops. My buffer never readjusts though. I have been a great fan of Netflix for several years and been watching Instant watch for at least a year. I didn't have any problems with the old Media player. My connection is about 800kbps. Netflix says you only need 700. Customer service told me to contact my provider for faster service. I was in hog heaven unil Silverlight. I am very peeved.

  123. Dear Netflix,

    The situation you have created with your silverlight based player is completely unacceptable.

    At the beginning of the next billing cycle my family and I will be placing our account on hold until we see if this situation is addressed.

    1) I was in no way notified that the quality of my relationship with netflix would be permanently modified, to my detriment, when I installed your "new player" one ONE of our PC based laptops.

    2) The quality of the video stream provided by netflix has obviously decreased when using the silverlight player as compared to the the windows media based player. This has been verified by 6 people watching two "identical" streams on two laptops placed side by side both laptops were directly jacked into a corporate grade T3 line which was not being used. Furthermore your corporate blog confirms this difference in quality.

    3) ...,"Sorry Sir but Tap-Tap no take back...even on your other machines..." While fairly pleasant to talk to and fluent in English your CSR basically gave the noted response to our inquiries as to a possible remedy to this situation. Now we are required to, "Upgrade" our other two laptops and desktop machines that use this account to stream movies. Upgrade for a downgrade in quality at the same price! Thanks netflix.

    We have always been a huge fans of netflix and have 'pimped you' regularly to our friends and colleagues. We would often comment that as a corporation 'you' seemed to do the right thing. Perhaps the glory days are over and 'you' are simply to large and profitable. If so, congratulations on your graduation into the ranks of our other entertainment and communication providers, who we respect so much. (Heavy sarcasm intended.) Corporations such as Comcast and AT&T who continually screw us, with little or no notification, for a few extra bucks and a little less service.


  124. Nice to see that, after 3+ months since my original comment (see the second from the top), that nothing has changed regarding the buffering, despite numerous comments since then. Customer Service-- :(

  125. I agee that the quality of the Silverlight player is not as good as the old player. The playback is jerky even on a pretty good connection. I don't enjoy the Netflix Instant View experience as much now as I did with the older player.

  126. Error Code 8306!

    I have a very fast computer and a 5K DSL service...

    New customer to Netflix and thinking about discontinuing already!

    Fix the buffering issue!

  127. I'm not a hater or anything but I have to say, I am very disappointed with the instant viewing experience with netflix. The video is choppy and I am on a high end mac with more than enough bandwidth for playback. There is no rhyme or reason to it on my end. I am on a free trail and as much as I LOVE the idea of streming intead of watching, I will not go past the free trail if video playback is not fixed. There is a blockbuster less than a block from me so mailing cd's is pointless. However, if the streaming bugs get worked out I will gladly cancel my blockbuster account.

    At the end of the day, these services just have to work.

  128. Same here. Once silverlight is installed the instant movies are unwatchable. Putting my membership on hold until this is fixed. Dumb that this was just dropped into the customers hands with all the issues still remaining.

  129. My problem is related. We just watched "The Notebook" on a Blu-Ray dvd. As played on my new Sony player, there was a very distracting offset between speech/sound and the video. I would have thought that processing/encoding would handle this kind of offset. Since my player is a new Sony it should handle the decode properly. I wonder if it is an encoding problem on the part of the studio?

  130. I just watched Episode 4 of The Office: Season 3 and it never switched to higher quality the whole time. My 6 Mbps downstream connection was unutilized both before and after I started the episode. I would rather wait a few minutes before watching the episode than have to suffer through lower quality or have it switch back and forth between low- and high-quality playback. Regardless, why didn't it switch to higher quality the whole time I'm watching the episode? I never had this problem with the old player. Why isn't there an option to switch back?

  131. Also, I forgot to mention that the image tears significantly, something that the old player never did. The tearing makes the show sometimes unwatchable. It is so distracting that you can't focus on the story.

  132. I was recently pushed into an "upgrade" to Silverlight.
    I am very disappointed in its ablility to smoothly stream video!
    Finding that Netflix has acually been using this MS(ugh)product for several months and haven't addressed this problem yet is even more disappointing. I was a great fan of the ability to watch movies on my P.C. at my leasure but since the introduction of Silverlight this feature is unusable.

    What I'm most afraid of would be the seemingly endless string of patches and fixes that we've grown to expect from MS products.

    I would hope that a solution to this issue is found soon, it seems that the list of dissatified watchers is growing...

  133. I sure hope they fix the jerky slideshow like video. Silverlight is not for computers with a slower than 2.4 ghz cpu. I refuse to run my computer without an antivirus and a firewall.

  134. I knew sooner or later I would have to switch to Silverlight and I did yesterday.
    Add me to the list of people with horrible stuttering and jerky video.
    I loved the previous way the movies worked. Not perfect but pretty damn good.
    Now it looks as though I can't use Watch Instantly anymore.
    Thanks alot NF and MS.

  135. I had to "upgrade" on Friday the 13th (bad day to upgrade). It was actually a downgrade. I have at home 3 HTPC, 4 laptops, 2 desktops and 1 mac, with OS ranging from XP to Vista to Windows 7 Beta on a desktop to Mac OS X.

    I tried the silverlight on XP and Vista, Laptop, HTPC and Desktop. The result is a major regression in quality.

    The old player streamed video very well. The new Silverlight player is very blurred, with squares blocks, white smears and flashes, with flickers.

    Customer service was not able to help. They claim this is a free service, and therefore, they are not under the obligation to find a fix. (the fix was simple: let me go back to the old player, it was working fine, I never asked for an upgrade!)

    Anyway, I am now seriously considering dropping Netflix altogether. I tried the video quality of Hulu (OK), and I watched the office on NBC.COM (that was good quality!). The fact that my computers can play the NBC.Com video streams in high quality, and not the Netflix, point me to the conclusion that the issue is with Netflix, and their implementation on Silverlight, not my hardware or my internet connection.

    Anyway, after trying other services, and seeing how well they work, I will be cancelling our 17.95$/month account w/ Netflix.

    This was a good experience with Netflix, until this Friday. I am sorry that I recommended Netflix to friends and colleagues.

    If anyone knows of a startup that is trying to get into this market (high quality streaming), please let me know: I would love to give them my money (and hey, I've got some NFLX that I will be disposing off too. Good price these days, time to sell).

  136. Just "Upgraded" to silverlight... I regret making the decision. The silverlight picture quality is terrible and it is a shame since watch instantly was such a good feature (one of the main reasons i got netflix)... will have to reconsider subscription now...

  137. Add me to the list of buffer problems using MS Silverlight. I am very disappointed. I too will put my account on hold status until the problem is rosolved.

  138. I really do not like the silverlight. So much so that I tried to uninstall it but I had to reinstall to view instantly. Now it pixelates and the audio is out of sync. This is not what I intended when I got a larger monitor to view movies instantly.

  139. I have been a long time fan of Netflix...even bought their stock and touted it to friends. However,
    when I tried to install Silverlight today I got the 5302 error message. It seems I don't have a compatible processor. I enjoyed watching movies using WMP, and now, it seems I can't watch anymore unless I go out and buy a new processor. Netflix, what the hell are you doing. At least give us the option of watching on Windows Media Player...after reading all the comments about Silverlight, happy now I didn't install. Why the HELL CAN'T THE COMPUTER COMMUNITY LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE...why the need to rush new products before they're really ready. Oh well, won't be using Netflix as much.

  140. I love that feature where I have to get up out of my chair every 10 minutes so Silverlight can take a sh!t in my mouth.

    Thank you netflix, and thank you Bill Gates.

    I hope you all get what you deserve.

  141. I second Barton, Danny, Anonymous and Edwin. If there were one piece of non-free software I would install on my linux box it would be a netflix player. (assuming the main reason that it would have to be closed would be the content providers concerns about piracy). Please add Linux support as soon as possible.

  142. Cut the bull, mr. Neil Hunt, Netflix chief product officer. Get interested in the quality of your products or get in the unemployment line. CAN YOU HEAR YOUR LOYAL CUSTOMERS SCREAMING, SIR? Sure you can, so dump a lot of tech speak that some of your engineers wrote up for you on the peasant customers and hopefully they will say, "Gee, arent we lucky that Mr. Hunt is so gracious to give us such a distracting diatribe? Here is more of our hard earned money, Mr. Hunt."

    Face it, your customers are angry with you, your products and your company. Let them go back to the old PC player until you get busy and fix (actually improve) the new one or lose those customers forever.

    I am going to, mr Hunt. I read dozens of post per day of others who are doing the same. Thanks!

  143. Thank you all for posting your comments.

    I had difficulty watching a movie from my Instant queue yesterday. The audio was fine but the video display was green. I contacted Netflix customer support and got the same info you got - I need to opt-in to Silverlight but once I do so I can't opt-out. Or I can "fix" the video card on my PC.

    Before I opted in to Silverlight, I figured I'd better check to see if there are known problems with it. I'm glad I found your forum. I will not be opting in to Silverlight and will only "watch" instantly those DVDs where just listening is okay - like standup comedians.

    Why would they switch to a Microsoft product that is unproven and unreliable? Everyone knows that Microsoft has a history of rushing products to market with known problems, and that you never want to be on the "bleeding edge" of any new Microsoft product or release.

    Today I received a survey asking how was the picture and audio quality of the movie I tried to view. When I clicked on the unacceptable option the link didn't work. That doesn't surprise considering how indifferent Netflix has been to your comments.

    I will be checking out Blockbuster and Walmart also.

  144. Your silverlight player really sucks. It said I had excellent connection (which I do), but the quality was horrible. Constantly stops playing to buffer more, jerky, horrible picture quality, and bad sound. I'm using a MacBook Pro and using the fast graphics chip.

    Why don't you switch to flash like MLB just did?

  145. It would be great if Netflix gave us an option of which movie viewer to use.

    Never had a problem until Silver light downloaded to my PC. Now like many other customers the movie is herky-jerky (looks like a fast slide show)plus I get alot of re-buffering.

    Complaints about silverlight can easily be found on the internet as well.

    I just don't get managements refusal to dump it or atleast offer an aternative.

    I'll give it two more weeks and if nothing changes I'm gone.

  146. Good informative post.Thanks for sharing nice one.

  147. I HATE the silverlight player, I can no longer force what bitrate I want to wait to watch the show in. No instead it detects a compressed connection when it tests and figures its slower then it really is so I get the lowest bitrate. Your detection code is crap let us choose what we want.

  148. Still have problems with Silverlight. NETFLIX ARE YOU LISTENING? Keep trying it about once a month but still have same problems. Netflix says my connection is too slow. It was great before Silverlight so obviously Silverlight is NOT an improvement.
    You have lots of angry customers out there. Get to it!

    This is my 3rd comment on the subject.

  149. Silverlite is the WORST thing ever. It is worse than Flash. The way you guys screwed us over and switched us from WMV to silverlite is really bad.

    After trying your new streaming service, I have decided to stick with my cable provider. I really hate them dinos, but at least pan/scan works, audio is decent and it never ever stalls or looks blurry. Their SD looks better than your HD!

    Now if only Comcast did some recommendation for media - you guys will bite the dust.

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  151. I just talked to some idiot named Russell in customer service who assured me Silverlight was a GRRRRREAT product and he had NOOOOO problems with it. Yeah. I'm sure you get paid $15/hr to tell me that Russell. Seriously. Look at all the comments her about how much Silverlight sucks. I am OBVIOUSLY not the only one having issues with this CRAP video player. Netflix needs to shape up and solve this problem or you will be losing LOTS of customes. I will personally make sure to boycott you with as many people as I can get on board with me. UGH!!!

  152. NETFLIX does not care about their customers. They are too busy rolling around naked in all the money Microsucks gave them for using their suck-tastic software. Good job NETFLIX... Enjoy your stand in the unemployment line.

  153. The Netflix change from .windows media files to Silverlight has RUINED THE watchitnow service. NOTHING WORKS RIGHT. Garbled audio and video streams. I cannot tell what is being said. Why even try? I talked for an hour with a "Tech" only thing I found out new was; it works with firefox now and still does not WORK RIGHT! They know it does not work and some person there has the idea that it does. The Person in charge who does not know a damn thing about technology or customer service. Said Person will know about looking for another job real quick as the stock price tanks. I think Ill call and bitch again...

  154. I wish Netflix had some decent HELP for this FAR INFERIOR player!!! I keep getting ERROR CODE 2105, and have been trying to find a solution, but NETFLIX has no idea and MS Silverlight has no idea and I can't uninstall it. And I can't reinstall it. BOTTOM LINE IS I CAN'T WATCH ANY MOVIES!!!
    When I was told to download this new movie player,(Silverlight), I had no idea that I would be switching to such a low quality viewing experience! I immediately noticed the usual good quality had turned into a fuzzy, blurry movie.
    The when I tried to rewind it, I waited forever for the movie to reload. The buttons to stop and pause are inconvenient too.
    Why did Netflix do this to their faithful customers??????
    And the worst part is they won't let you switch back!
    Don't they realize the amount of people that are cancelling their accounts?
    I think they forced this on us and know of all the problems we are having and that's why they don't have an email contact listed anywhere on the webpage, so they don't have to be bothered with all the complaints.
    This is another example of big business in cahoots, all for $$$$. And TOTAL disregard for the ones that matter.

  155. The ONLY question here is WHEN is Netflix going to UNINSTALL the silverlight mess and go back to the drawing board on their own time. (Hello, Neil Hunt!)

    I realize that the instant playing of movies is FREE from Netflix and so I cannot be too demanding, but I've spent the last 10 days with Microsoft engineers who are walking me through dumb baby steps (is your pc plugged in?) because they don't want to admit that Silverlight is not ready for PRIME TIME, either.

  156. I watched a movie yesterday on my PC then today I was prompted to upgrade my player. Now I'm getting "Media Playback Error" code:1185. I've endabled Silverlight playback, refreshed, etc. and NOTHING WORKS!!! Needless to say, it's very disapointing. I'm glad Netfix is making an attempt to improve playback quality (even thought I have a cable connection many "older" movies didn't look good)but, now I can't watch any of the instant movies...IT SUCKS!!! Please fix it soon!!!!!

  157. Thanks for the info. We are very anxious for closed captions.
    I see in your post that they will be coming?
    Any idea when? We ordered the Roku box without first checking to see if we will have CC. If you are not going to have CC avaliable in the near future, we will need to send it back.
    Thanks again for the detaied update

  158. you can read this message about encoding straming. this links are for your securty. you can whatch movies

  159. For those of you having trouble with the silverlight player, it is possible to go back to the previous player. You have to find the netfixplayer msi file and install it.

    Now, I'm not sure if it will let you install if the silverlight player is there already, but I was able to run this msi on a computer with a newly-installed copy of XP without any issue. The msi is located in the netflix player directory under program files. You'll probably have to pull it off a computer that's still running the old player.

    I find it ridiculous that netflix decided to go with this silverlight player despite the flaws it has (like horizontal tearing, same issue that flash has), so hopefully this will work for people having issues with it.

  160. An excellent informative post..thanks for sharing this article.

  161. I was just wondering why you don't use VLC media player plug-in for streaming movies? I mean VLC can play just about any audio/video file type out there, specifically the .mkv file type which allows for multiple audio and video tracks (subtitles and different versions of the same video) on one file. This would be extremely useful for viewing foreign films and anime for those of us who would like to see these types of films in their original language. Just a thought...

  162. film izle dizi izle thank you very much

  163. audio/video file type out there, specifically the .mkv file type which allows for thank. multiple audio and video tracks (subtitles and different versions of the same video

  164. We need an option to opt-out of Silverlight. Silverlight is annoying and I (almost) might as well be watching a movie on youtube. I use the Watch Instantly feature to watch films on my tv via an S-video cable, and apart from the quality, the fullscreen no long autofits to my tv screen, I can no longer work in other programs while watchin the films on my tv, and the screensave is no longer disabled. Please give us an option. Or lobby with Microsoft on our behalf to fix this.

  165. Silverlight is a disaster. I have a 5 month old Lenovo T400 with a verified 15Mps+ cable connection. The Windows Media Player based viewer always functioned fabulously. Enter Silverblight: Netflix used to be a force for good in the universe, but the trade-offs the co. has decided to make by insisting on Silverlight shows they have suffered a terminal erosion of their original values. Sadly just like the Silverlight playback quality, the company has become a muddied, compromised and inconsistent phantom of its former self.


  167. Silverlight is a deal breaker. Give us an opt back or fix it!

  168. I was just forced to upgrade to the Silverlight player - the quality sucks compared to the old player. What you are saying in your blog is that the quality should get better once the player figures out that I have the bandwidth, but I don't see it happening. With the old player I never noticed the quality - it just was not an issue.

    The SL player also has horizontal lines/tears which the old player did not have.

    Finally, the SL player does not prevent the screen saver from tripping - how annoying.

    Shit. What a bummer, and no way to go back.

  169. This is an amazing post. Thank you for sharing!

  170. This is an amazing post. Thank you for sharing!

  171. What a disaster with Silverlight. I tried again today on a faster computer, but it failed again. The picture is jerky, and lasts fro 3-4 minutes. Then the buffer is exhausted, and Silverlight tries to reload. Usually it just stays at 0%, sometimes moves slowly to 22% or 25% and stops. Occasionally it will re-buffer, only to fail again after a few minutes. Instant viewing is completely unusable now.

    What a failure on part of Netflix!

  172. So, what part of my monthly fee am I getting reimbursed since I can no longer stream movies?

  173. This for these details--great to see this kind of transparency into Netflix. Here's to hoping for more 720p content and 5.1 audio :)

  174. Because the Netflix CEO is now a Microsoft board member, I can no longer watch online content without choppy frames and tearing from Silverlight. I'll be canceling my subscription due to this less than honest opt-in strategy designed to directly benefit of Microsoft.

  175. I have had netflix for about a year and one of the best parts was being able to watch online. Now with Silverlight my computer that really isnt that old, doen't have enough RAM to properly watch a movie.
    I am really disappointed and unless I am given another option I will have to re-think my Netflix subscription.

  176. I used to love watching streaming videos from Netflix. Now with Silverlight all I get to watch is the "Buffering..." message every couple minutes. When I called Netflix to complain they said I would have to upgrade my internet connection. Living in the middle of nowhere, that isn't really an option. Seems like the typical Microsoft upgrade where if you don't have the latest and greatest, it is really a downgrade. I wish they would bring back the old player so I could watch streaming movies again.

  177. The selection also sucks very badly. Hmmm, not to good.

  178. Thanks for at least making an effort to keep your customers informed.

    As has been noted above, the system requirements for silverlight are far too high. Most people don't have PCs fast enough to play a movie back in full screen mode. The reason for this is that silverlight, unlike the previous WMP based solution, cannot use hardware acceleration, thereby forcing the CPU to both decode and scale the picture.

    Apparently, there's talk of silverlight 3 being able to use hardware acceleration. If this is the case, netflix should not have rolled out the new delivery system until it was fully functional. Until then, I implore netflix to allow people to roll back to the original method while we wait for silverlight to mature.

  179. THIS IS ABSURD!! I IMPLORE ALL NETFLEX SUBSCRIBERS TO WRITE TO FOUNDER REED HASTINGS OR PUT YOUR SUBSCRIPTION ON HOLD FOR 3 TO 6 MONTHS! YOU CANNOT LET THEM DO THIS TO US! Do not buy into their excuse that watching movies online is free and that we should be happy with Silverlight. We DO pay for online movies thru our subscription fees!

    I was tricked (coerced, swindled) into going with Silverlight. I was very happy with the WMP player and did not mind the long buffering time as long as I had great resolution. So 2 weeks ago I tried to watch BOTTLESHOCK and got a black screen. When I called the helpline they basically said that the Bottleshock movie can only be watched with the new Silverlight player. When I asked why Netflex had not advertised or notified users of the new player the representative said he did not know. HM. A warning light should have gone off in my head at that moment but it did not. I did not realize that once I clicked the link and accepted to install Silverlight that there would be no way to go back to the WMP player.

    I am shocked on how bad the Silverlight player is and cannot believe that founder Reed Hastings would have allowed this player to go live and then denied people the right to be switched back! There were no technical issues with my internet connection or my laptop. The Help Line had me check my internet connection, laptop, browser and all were optimal. We are now in 2009 and any beta or testing they did in 2008 did not fix anything.

  180. This is an amazing post. Thank you for sharing!

  181. If you guys are never going to support Watch Instantly for non-Intel based Macs, you should at least offer a discounted rate for those who cannot (or do not want to) use the Watch Instantly streaming feature.


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