YouTube Will Join Netflix And Amazon With Support For HDR Video

YouTube will be joining Netflix and Amazon with support for HDR (high dynamic range) video, the company announced this week at CES 2016. The news was briefly mentioned during an onstage conversation about 360-degree video taking place between Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s Chief Business Officer, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman, and VRSE CEO Chris Milk.

Along with the news of a partnership between GoPro and YouTube focused on bringing more 360-degree content to YouTube’s platform, Kyncl also casually mentioned that YouTube would soon support HDR video as well.

The idea with HDR is to improve video image quality by expanding the contrast ratio and color palette to offer a more realistic, and natural image. HDR picture quality is better because of its ability to produce richer colors and improved contrast between the brighter areas on the screens and darker parts of the images. You’re also able to see more detail in dark, shadowy scenes.

The format, which is considered something of the next step beyond high-def TV, will require an HDR-compatible TV in order to view HDR content. However, a number of TV manufacturers at CES announced their plans for HDR TVs, including LG, Sony and Panasonic.

YouTube tells us that, on CES’s show floor, partners including Samsung, LG and Hisense were showcasing YouTube in 4K HDR by displaying videos from NASA and Karmin.

The announcement was light on further details about HDR support, including when HDR video support would become available. (It was only said to be arriving “soon.”) When asked for further comment on the matter, a rep for YouTube would only say that HDR playback is coming this year.

The discussion also included a few other tidbits about YouTube partners’ future plans, including GoPro’s soon-to-launch “casual” spherical capture camera which it believes will help bring more 360-degree content to YouTube.

Updated Friday, 12 PM ET with further comments from YouTube

CES 2016