Netflix Boldly Streams Where No Site has Streamed Before

By Tom Pritchard on at

Netflix is available in 190 different countries, which is basically everywhere except North Korea, Crimea, Syria, China. Even Antarctica has Netflix, for all those bored scientists, explorers, and penguins. Three of those four countries can't ever get Netflix because of US sanctions, and expanding into China might be difficult. But you know where Netflix can expand to? Space.

But rather than setting up a server on the ISS ready for the astronauts to binge-watch Lost in Space, Netflix has opted for a simpler option. Like many groups who want to send things into space on the cheap (or as close to space as they can get), Netflix used a big-ass balloon to fly an iPhone up into the stratosphere. That iPhone just happened to be playing episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, which means Netflix was showing a show about space in space.

As you can see in the video below, Netflix packed in some heaters to keep the phone working (outside temperature dropped to -60 Celsius, which is more than even a rugged phone can handle), an avionics package for GPS tracking, and a GoPro to film the whole thing.

Alright if we're going to be really picky Netflix wasn't actually streaming anything. Those episodes were pre-downloaded and stored locally, because there's no internet connection in space. Not unless you're on the ISS, and even then it's not exactly 4G-tier quality. If you want to be extra picky that's not technically 'space' because it's well below the Kármán line. But it would still kill a human not wearing a pressure suit, so it's close enough.

All of this was done as part of Netflix's Hack Day, which is when employees get to take a day off proper work to collaborate on wacky experiments. Past projects have included turning a 1950's CRT TV into something capable of playing Netflix, picture-in-picture mode, QuietCast which casts audio from your TV  to your phone for headphone purposes), and various iterations of the service in VR.

This year's also included a 3D virtual model of Altered Carbon's Bay City that's also a fully-functional Netflix homepage, and a panning vertical player that lets you watch Netflix even when you can't really tilt your phone horizontally. I'm not entirely sure when that might be at all sueful, but I suppose it's pretty cool. Not as cool as Netflix in Space, though. [Netflix via Engadget]


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