AVS Forum Special Member
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Salem, Oregon, United States, Earth
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At one time when Netflix was relatively new to streaming it was common for the lower resolutions to come online first and while higher-resolution encodes were made available they would be placed online, so, for a number of titles, first day or two of it being available one would get only a low-resolution stream. The rationale was that everyone could view a low-resolution stream but higher-resolution streams would benefit fewer people.
Since then I suspect the whole process of creating streams had been totally revamped, and that wouldn't explain why you could get a higher resolution stream and, after a delay, could no longer get that resolution, though increasing pathway usage and server load could explain a lower resolution.
And, from what I had read, it looks like when certain titles and encodes for those titles become popular, during the graveyard shift Netflix will deploy copies of those encodes to more servers, especially to servers "closer" to the consumers of those encodes, but that is a bit more of a reactive action, so it doesn't benefit those watching the first evening the title is available, but should benefit those watching the second evening.