Will Netflix 4K EVER be as good as DIRECTV 4K?

Never say never but… the truth is that Netflix’s 4K isn’t that special. If you do have an HDR TV you will get darker blacks and brighter colors with Netflix, but you’ll still have an image that gets blocky and blurry at all the wrong times, like when there’s fast action. Netflix (obviously) is really reliant on your internet speed and a clean connection when it comes to delivering you a high quality picture. If your neighbors want to watch 4K too… well that could mean that NO ONE gets 4K, only HD masquerading as 4K.

Even at its best, a Netflix 4K stream is going to be about 25 megabits per second. On the other hand, satellite-delivered 4K from DIRECTV has the potential for a stream up to 60 megabits and that extra bandwidth is used to deliver a clearer, sharper picture even when there’s a lot of action. Yes, I know, and you all have mentioned this before… Netflix’s compression schemes are more advanced than DIRECTV. This is true, but it’s not enough to make up for the fact that they are crunching the image down over twice as small as DIRECTV. Something has to give, and it’s usually image quality.

Until we all have nice, clean 200 megabit connections to the home — which I freely admit could be common in five years or so — Netflix is never going to be able to keep up. It may have the “cooler car” in the form of HDR and better compression technology, but it’s on “someone else’s highway…” the internet which can be a congested and bumpy ride. On the other hand, only DIRECTV has the hardware up in the sky to deliver dozens of 4K channels when those channels actually exist, and deliver them with a data rate that isn’t dependent on how many people are watching. Satellite TV delivers the same quality whether one person is watching or a million are. Try that, Netflix.

Sidebar: I pick on Netflix 4K a lot but that’s because I can’t really pick on Amazon 4K, which is so bad that you can barely watch it sometimes. I actually watched Transformers on 4K Prime Video and there were parts that were actually worse than my Blu-ray disc copy of the same movie. That’s pretty sad, right?

So the bottom line here is… if you’re looking for real 4K you don’t have a lot of choices. In fact, you have one: DIRECTV. End of discussion, at least for now.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.