Google Play Movies & TV rolls out support for HDR video on Chromecast Ultra

Google Play Movies & TV today becomes the latest video provider to roll out support for HDR (high dynamic range) video, Google announced today. HDR video is designed to improve picture quality, as it’s able to produce richer colors and offer better contrast between the bright areas of the screen and darker parts of the image. That means HDR video looks more like real life, when compared with HD.

Several of today’s top video services already support HDR video, even though the technology hasn’t made its way into all consumers’ homes.

Netflix, for example, allows customers to stream video in HDR quality if they have a supported TV, and there are rumors it will add support for mobile HDR content in the future. Amazon, meanwhile, rolled out HDR support back in 2015. And Google’s own YouTube announced plans for HDR support at CES 2016.

To enjoy HDR video on the big screen, you need an HDR-compatible TV and – in Google’s case – a Chromecast Ultra.

People don’t upgrade their television as often as they do other technologies, like smartphones, which means broad adoption of HDR in the living room could take years. But if you’re in the market for a new TV, there are a number of options available today, including TVs from Sony, Samsung, Vizio, Panasonic, Philips, LG, TCL, Hisense, and others.

According to Google, HDR will first be available in the U.S. and Canada on Google Play Movies & TV, and the only hardware device that will work with HDR at this time is Chromecast Ultra.

The HDR rollout is being enabled via support from two major studio partners, Sony and Warner Bros., the company says. For instance, the newest movie in the Harry Potter franchise, “Fantasy Beasts and Where to Find Them,” will be among the first to be available in HDR. At launch, there’s only a small handful of HDR movies available – around a dozen titles, says Google.

Google did not offer an estimate as to when HDR support would reach its other global markets, beyond telling us it would be in the “coming months.”