7 Ways to Watch 4K Videos or Movies Online and on TV at Your Home

Here’s a fun fact: Ultra HD, commonly referred to as 4K(twice the horizontal pixels and twice the amount of vertical pixels, resulting in a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution), one of the sharpest formats on the market. Despite its nearly unparalleled visual fidelity, Ultra HD has one major hurdle to leap before it’s ready for prime time: a lack of content.

Trying to find a show to watch in 4K is like finding a needle in an ultra crisp haystack, with more hay added to the pile every single day.

We’re here to help with a list of every place you can find 4K Ultra HD content from sources like Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video and YouTube as well as some more obscure places like UltraFlix, M-Go and even Sony’s insanely expensive FMP-X10 Ultra HD media player.

Netflix 4K

Netflix was one of the first video-on-demand services to announce it would be supporting 4K streaming. It stuck to its promise, and in April 2014, it went live in the UK. But in order to access the content, you need to have the right kit.

At the time of writing Netflix has 80 hours of 4K content available to stream: House of Cards Season 2, Breaking Bad and Netflix-original series Marco Polo along with some lovely scenic footage, called Oceans, Forests, Deserts and Flowers. Not a huge amount yet, then.

To watch Netflix 4K online your 4K TV will need to support the HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding)/H.265 compression standard. The first generation of 4K TVs didn’t support this, instead coming with the H.264 codec, which doesn’t support most of the 4K content now available.

Meanwhile, you need a solid Internet connection. Netflix recommends a speed of at least 25Mbps, but ideally higher, for streaming 4K video. 

Amazon Prime Instant Video 4K

Amazon is also offering 4K content through its Prime Instant Video streaming service. For those with Prime memberships, this service is available at no extra cost.

Amazon’s service offers a good selection of 4K films and TV shows. You’ll find around 37 hours of TV, including many Amazon Originals shows such as Alpha House Season 2, Mad Dogs and Transparent, all available in 4K and all included in the Prime price. 

Some 26 films are available, including The Amazing Spider-Man 2 , Moneyball and The Da Vinci Code. But these are on a pay-as-you-go basis. The rental price is £6.99 (not all films can be rented) while the price to buy ranges from £14.99 to £22.99.

You can watch 4K video through the Amazon Instant Video app on compatible TVs. The Amazon 4K service was initially available only on Sony 4K TVs

YouTube 4K

YouTube also offers 4K video, but as with the previous two services, there are requirements. YouTube doesn’t use H.265 compression, instead, it uses another codec called VP9. The VP9 codec is royalty-free, meaning its adoption rate could potentially be higher, and it’s said by some to be more efficient when it comes to streaming Ultra HD video over the Internet.

So how do you watch 4K YouTube videos online? Google implemented the VP9 codec into its Chrome browser and YouTube back in 2013, so both have been able to support 4K streams for some time. If you search 4K content within YouTube right now, you’ll be able to select 4K as a quality option on each video. 

But, as with HEVC/H.265, VP9 needs compatible hardware, i.e. a 4K screen, to watch. LG, Panasonic and Sony were initial partners in the technology, with Samsung, ARM and Intel all poised to release hardware in the future. 

If you don’t have a compatible display, the video will be downsampled to the maximum output of your display.


UltraFlix, the 4K streaming network from NanoTech, is currently available on a selection of 4K UHD Sony TVs. The 4K UltraFlix Network App claims to have over 300 hours of 4K content, which NanoTech describes as “the world’s largest library of 4K VOD content”. 

Content includes movies, concerts, documentaries, special events and even 40 made-for-IMAX theatrical titles. 

It’s been reported that the UltraFlix app should be available on Samsung UHD TVs in both the US and Europe, 

4K Blu-ray

For many, getting a broadband connection that’s fast enough to support 4K streaming (realistically at the very least 30 Mbps) isn’t possible right now. Therefore a better way to get 4K content into the home would be on a disc format.

The good news is that the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) has confirmed the final spec for 4K discs, and these should be in stores – with compatible players – by Christmas. 

The new format will be called Ultra HD Blu-ray and will be applied to discs that can handle resolutions up to 3840 x 2160 and up to 60fps. The new format will support high dynamic range (HDR), higher frame rates (up to 60 frames per second) and object-based immersive sound, such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. HDR pictures can be delivered in one of two ways: either using the BDA-developed “BD HDR” section of the new specification, or via compatible HDR formats such as Dolby Vision.

Video will be encoded under the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard, and use 10-bit colour depth and the Rec. 2020 colour space.

You will of course need a new Ultra HD Blu-ray player to play the discs. Panasonic unveiled a prototype 4K Blu-ray player at CES 2015, and the BDA has begun the licensing process. So we expect first-gen players from the likes of Sony, Samsung, LG and Panasonic to be in stores before the end of the year. 

4K broadcasts

4K broadcasts are clearly on many broadcasters radar. The 2014 World Cup was a guinea pig for 4K filming, with the BBC filming three World Cup matches in 4K Ultra HD, which were sent live from Brazil to the BBC facilities back in the UK. 

The trial was set up to help the BBC understand the requirements for sending content over broadband and existing digital TV networks. The BBC also looked into the HEVC codec as a means of transmitting live 4K feeds over the internet. 

Sony and FIFA partnered up for the tournament too, and were able to broadcast a selection of live games in 4K to various retail outlets here in the UK.

The BBC released what it claimed was the largest-ever survey of TV viewing habits, which were in no small part designed to figure out just how many people would benefit from 4K TV based on TV screen sizes and viewing habits.

Go Euro

If you’re in Europe, you can check out the Eutestat 10A, the first dedicated 4K UHD channel.

These are some of the ways you can get 4K video into your home now, but the future of the format is highly speculative. However, with the development of High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), watching large 4K files over the Internet should become a reality, since it requires half the bit rate compared to older coding formats. This means there’s even greater promise for 4K in your home. In the future, content will most likely come from digital distribution, disc-based physical formats and broadcast TV. So once you’ve got your 4K TV and more movies and shows become available, you’ll be all set. And your friends will remember you as the first on your block to have 4K.

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