Netflix has been quick to support 4K streaming of its original content, and it looks like it's already thinking about the future. According to The Hollywood Reporter, season three of House of Cards was shot and finished in 6K — even though it's only streaming in 4K. Netflix apparently even had the show's visual effects shots completed that way, which is reportedly quite rare. Because of the large file sizes associated with these extremely high-resolution productions, they're typically more difficult and more costly to handle. The Reporter notes that even films finished in 4K often have VFX work done in 2K to make things simpler.
Each episode takes up 5.5TB of space
The master copies of House of Cards that Netflix received were reportedly only in 4K, but Netflix is having the production house store 6K masters as an archive, leaving the door open for the future. The 6K masters reportedly came in at 5.5TB per episode, compared to 2.5TB per 4K master. The Reporter says that production houses typically cite storage as the primary reason why these high-resolution productions are more costly.
This doesn't necessarily mean that we're about to see House of Cards in 6K. The market for 4K TVs is still nascent, and anything above that is basically nonexistent. But they're both growing, and Netflix is likely wise to prepare for a future beyond 4K (at CES this year, there were already some 8K sets). The high-res production is likely an added investment now, but it'll let Netflix be among the first out of the gate when reasons to launch 6K streaming do arrive. It was already among the first for 4K, and it looks like that could be Netflix's plan once again for whatever's next.