Want 1080p playback on Netflix? Don't use Firefox or Chrome - gHacks Tech News

Want 1080p playback on Netflix? Don't use Firefox or Chrome

Netflix is without doubt a very popular service that allows you to watch TV shows and movies by streaming them to devices you are using.

The service is a lot cheaper than cable in most countries it is offered in, and since it is digital, enables you to pick what you want to watch.

The quality of the Netflix stream depends on several factors that include the bandwidth available on the customer's end, the player technology used to play back the video streams, and the web browser.

Especially the latter may come as a surprise to users of the service but the Help Center on Netflix's website indicates that this is indeed the case.

1080p playback on Netflix

The HTML5 Player may limit the quality of the stream while the Silverlight player does not. HD resolution streams are only available if the Internet connection supports at least 5 Megabits per second, but that is not the only restriction.

Only Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge on Windows, Safari on Mac OS X, and Chrome on Chrome OS support 1080p HTML5 player streams while Chrome, Firefox and Opera only stream up to 720p in quality.

You can check the quality of the stream with the shortcut Ctrl-Shift-Alt-S.

  • Bitrate ~ 2350 -- 1280x720
  • Bitrate ~ 3000 -- 1280x720
  • Bitrate ~ 4300 -- 1920x1080
  • Bitrate ~ 5800 -- 1920x1080

What you can do to resolve this

netflix bitrate

netflix 1080p edge

There are several things that you can try to resolve the issue. First, you want to make sure that you are subscribed to the right plan.

The basic plan does not support HD or Ultra HD, and if that's your plan, it explains why you cannot stream in HD quality.

You can also verify the quality that you are getting by using the shortcut Ctrl-Shift-Alt-S while a stream is playing using the HTML5 Player.

A menu pops up listing all video and audio bitrates supported by the player. If you see 3000 as the maximum, you are only getting 720p at the most.

Some videos are not available in HD or Ultra HD, which means that you won't be able to play them in better quality even if you met all requirements. I suggest you try several movies or shows, for instance Netflix originals to make sure that is not the limiting factor in your case.

While you could switch browsers if you are using Mac or Windows devices, to watch in 1080p, you could also consider using one of the native applications that Netflix offers.

These apps, usually, offer HD streaming while web browsers may not. This is for instance the case for gaming consoles, the native Windows application and many more applications that stream Netflix.

netflix hd playback

You may also want to check the playback settings in the account:

  1. Load https://www.netflix.com/YourAccount in your browser of choice.
  2. Select "Playback settings" under My Profile on the page that opens up.
  3. The default data user per screen value is set to auto. If your Internet connection supports the minimum bandwidth for HD, select High to enforce HD playback if supported.

Another thing that you can do is check the Netflix speed index to make sure your Internet Service Provider delivers the required bandwidth to watch streams in HD. This is especially important if you are using a native application or a system browser on Windows or Mac as they should deliver 1080p if the video is provided in the quality and the Internet connection supports the bandwidth needed to stream in HD.

Update: A Chrome and Firefox add-on is available now which unlocks 1080p playback on Netflix in those browsers.

Summary
Want 1080p playback on Netflix? Don't use Firefox or Chrome
Article Name
Want 1080p playback on Netflix? Don't use Firefox or Chrome
Description
Find out what you can do to diagnose Netflix stream quality issues to make sure TV and movie content is streamed in HD.
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Publisher
Ghacks Technology News
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    Comments

    1. Joker said on January 12, 2016 at 9:56 am
      Reply

      In other words: The limitiation to 720p for Chrome and Chromefox have no technical reasons, correct?

      1. Pants said on January 12, 2016 at 10:02 am
        Reply

        [OK, here goes, not my area of knowledge really] Well, IE and Edge use Silverlight, Mac uses iProprietaryBullshit or something … FF/Chrome use HTML5

        1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 12, 2016 at 10:50 am
          Reply

          No, they all use HTML5 and there are differences in what the HTML5 player delivers depending on browser.

        2. Pants said on January 12, 2016 at 11:23 am
          Reply

          “The HTML5 Player may limit the quality of the stream while the Silverlight player does not”
          ^^ that kinda threw me. I inferred from that, that netflix detected and used silverlight if you were on IE/Edge since it was a MS product. Never used Netflix, so no idea really. I prefer mkv local files :) Thanks for the clarification.

        3. Jeff said on January 12, 2016 at 8:35 pm
          Reply

          I get Silverlight in FF. There’s a way to force it to use that for Netflix.

        4. PriceB said on July 16, 2016 at 7:18 pm
          Reply

          Macs use Silverlight as well as html 5 there is nothing proprietary about it.

        5. mtrc said on January 29, 2017 at 12:33 pm
          Reply

          Its netflix POLICY to not allow full hd on Chrome, Firefox and Opera. Silverlight has nothing to do with it.

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 12, 2016 at 10:52 am
        Reply

        I don’t know, Netflix does not provide the information but from what I read it appears to be based on the unfinished state of HTML video implemented by the browsers. But, there is no confirmation of that.

        1. Pants said on January 12, 2016 at 11:30 am
          Reply

          quote from some dodgy backwater dark internet shady alley (don’t ask):

          “HTML5 hasn’t had its DRM standardised yet and until it is the browsers looking to abide by standards won’t get 1080p. It’s only IE 11 on Win8 [and now Win10 and also Edge – ed.] which takes MS standard approach of going their own way and not following standards which has a DRM that’s been fully accepted by the Movie/TV industry ”

          No idea about Safari, but I guess its the same as MS.

          PS: godamn DRM ruining it for everyone

    2. Cookie Control said on January 12, 2016 at 11:06 am
      Reply

      Does changing the browsers user agent have any effect?

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 12, 2016 at 11:26 am
        Reply

        Did not try that, I put it on my todo list.

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 12, 2016 at 12:01 pm
        Reply

        Tried it, it is not working. Neither the Edge user agent nor the IE11 user agent deliver 1080p in Chrome or Firefox. In fact, the video won’t start at all.

    3. SuiAmhain said on January 12, 2016 at 6:01 pm
      Reply

      Ghacks to the rescue, thank you.

      I bought a UHD laptop and FF is struggling with HD YouTube period. It’s well frustrating. Just waiting on tab close order preferences in Vivaldi then I am switched, FF is lagging unfortunately.

    4. Don Gateley said on January 12, 2016 at 9:34 pm
      Reply

      What application is it that you show all the pictures of?

      1. Pants said on January 12, 2016 at 9:42 pm
        Reply
      2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 12, 2016 at 9:47 pm
        Reply

        It is Chrome, Edge and Chrome again if you mean that.

    5. prwnd said on January 17, 2016 at 6:17 pm
      Reply

      I don’t understand: “Only Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge on Windows, and Safari on Mac, support 1080p HTML5 player streams” so how can YouTube stream 1080p and higher in Chrome? It is also html5.

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 17, 2016 at 6:18 pm
        Reply

        This is only for Netflix, not for other streaming sites. The main issue here is probably DRM.

    6. vitaly said on February 21, 2016 at 11:05 pm
      Reply

      I would rather watch 720p on chrome then use Edge or IE, also you cant tell the difference anyway. I tried running them side by side on 150mb connection, there is zero difference in quality.

      1. vinny said on March 28, 2016 at 5:27 pm
        Reply

        you need new eyes

        1. max said on July 20, 2016 at 8:48 pm
          Reply

          and a new brain

        2. Nympholept said on May 21, 2017 at 6:12 am
          Reply

          Ha ha ha..

    7. marcos said on May 10, 2016 at 7:53 pm
      Reply

      another issue is that Netflix will cap you at 720p (regardless of browser) if you’re using Win7. i doubt it’s for any technical reason as 1080p was available on Netflix more than 5 years ago on Win7 and has only been dialed back in recent years

    8. TMG said on June 27, 2016 at 1:27 am
      Reply

      No longer the case. Chrome and Firefox have both updated their DRM to Netflix specifications and on some titles I get close to 6000 bitrate for the full 1080p HD experience (and on win7, unlike what previous user marcos mentioned).

      1. TMG said on June 27, 2016 at 1:27 am
        Reply

        Also, evi-dents of said bitrate: http://i.imgur.com/NMrauXd.png

        1. kit said on July 1, 2016 at 10:53 am
          Reply

          are you on a chromebook? my chrome is fully up to date and star trek the next generation on netflix is 720 in chrome and 1080 in safari on osx for me. it was very difficult to tell side by side on a video still, but the difference is clear with the text in the opening. (i had to side-by-side because ctrl-shift-alt-s doesn’t do anything in safari.)

          the netflix website also still says chrome is 720p, though i’ve seen some say 1080p works on a chromebook because then google has full control over the display pipeline.

        2. kit said on July 1, 2016 at 10:58 am
          Reply

          ah, searching for example short 23.976 doesn’t work anymore, but a direct link to the video does. for me, netflix is definitely topping out at 720 in chrome and 1080 in safari, as confirmed by the wee overlay.

        3. TMG said on July 16, 2016 at 7:28 pm
          Reply

          No, not chromebook, Chrome as a browser on my Win7 machine. Plenty of titles playback 4300 – 5800 bitrate, which is full 1080p.

      2. marcos said on July 22, 2016 at 6:14 am
        Reply

        Can you list what those titles close to 6000 are? I’m on Win7 x64 w/FF 47.0.1 and the most I’m seeing is 4420 (still 720p) on a small number of titles. Even Netflix shows that are 4k titles are maxing out around 3-3600 bitrate

    9. Jeff said on July 21, 2016 at 9:22 pm
      Reply

      This is a great article, however the difference between Chrome and Edge is even more extreme than presented in it. Recently, Netflix silently dropped support of even 720p in Chrome for many (but not all) titles. It seems like Netflix originals are still 720p in Chrome, but many other shows and movies are not. One example of a show is Parks and Recreation. One example of a movie is Minions. There are many many more examples that max out at 480p in Chrome, but go to 1080p in Edge. I would encourage Martin to amend the story (or write a new one) with this additional info. I suspect this decision was made by Netflix in the wake of the recent DRM vulnerability uncovered in Widevine. You can read more about that here:

      https://www.wired.com/2016/06/bug-chrome-makes-easy-pirate-movies/

      The move to 480p seems to have coincided with this story breaking, so they are likely related. Seems like it would make for a good topic to investigate more, given that Netflix has not updated their support document with this new limitation (but certainly should)?

    10. Jeff said on July 21, 2016 at 9:24 pm
      Reply

      Here are examples that max out at 480p (not 720p) in Chrome:

      https://www.netflix.com/watch/70152008

      https://www.netflix.com/watch/80033394

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 22, 2016 at 12:53 pm
        Reply

        I cannot play these in Germany, not available. Also, cannot play Netflix on Chrome currently it seems as I get a “whoops, something went wrong” for all videos claiming the browser is missing a component.

        1. Jeff said on July 22, 2016 at 5:17 pm
          Reply

          That issue in Chrome sounds like an issue with your Widevine installation. Here are some useful tips:

          https://help.netflix.com/en/node/14759

          If you get that resolved, I suspect most any movie (other than Netflix originals) will demonstrate the 480p issue in Germany too.

          Click to Edit – 5 minutes and 24 seconds
          Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    11. ylykdisnetflix said on September 6, 2016 at 11:55 pm
      Reply

      Have you found a solution to manually selecting video bitrate on chrome and macs? Currently when opening the setting to adjust the bitrate (cntrl+shft+alt+s) the menu is locked except for on microsoft edge, and is completely locked on all Mac devices. This is really frustrating since my connection is 100mbps but it only streams at ~2k bits :(

    12. Luke said on September 12, 2016 at 12:16 pm
      Reply

      So the EME standard as proposed by W3C would have allowed sites like Netflix to force you to use a specific browser on a specific system and/or device in specific regions through DRM and CDM sudo-plugins. I think that is what is going on here. Netflix and Microsoft are trying to define the future of content protection.

    13. Luke Gibson said on February 3, 2017 at 8:14 am
      Reply

      If the limit on Chrome is 720p, why can I watch YouTube in 4K completely fine, I’m calling BS

    14. killerpot said on March 31, 2017 at 11:36 am
      Reply

      it’s the microsoft and netflix scam they arrange their shit so you cannot watch in 1080p because of 2 many restriction this bunch of asshole make and arragement it’s because of the sylverlight protection

    15. Kubrick said on January 12, 2018 at 8:26 pm
      Reply

      I personally could not give a toss about netflix and all this internet nonsense about choice of browser being based on whether it can get netflix is a load of old b****x.

      I dont care what google thinks i should be using as i believe in freedom of choice and i choose not to use netflix or chrome.
      F&&k google and F&&k chrome.

    16. JG said on February 11, 2018 at 1:12 pm
      Reply
    17. TMG said on February 11, 2018 at 2:37 pm
      Reply

      @JG Thank you so much for that extension. Works like a charm. Tested it out on several movies/shows and plays them all back @ the proper bitrate. Kudos.

    18. SS said on February 12, 2018 at 6:29 pm
      Reply

      Thanks so much for this extension. As others noted, works like a charm. There is an issue with certain videos though. Disney titles like Pirates of the Caribbean or The Jungle Book are capped at 480p and the extension doesn’t seem to work with those. Anyone else seeing the same thing?

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