At my job, I have encoded our sites videos for a couple years by using X-Media Re-encode:

MP4  1024x576 VBR 1500kbps 
WebM 1024x576 CBR 1200kbps

I never had complaints about quality or buffering, I came about with those parameters by trial and error. Now my bosses want 3 qualities, which are:

MP4/WebM 1280x720
MP4/WebM 1920x1280
MP4/WebM 3840x2160

I warned them that the last one (4K) isn't mainstream as AFAIK. They think everyone has iPhone 6 I guess and that tomorrow every device will be Retina capable. I simply need a solid reference I can show my bosses the extra time in downloading, uploading, and encoding 4K will be. I assume the best way to do that is by the numbers (bitrates most importantly), without even considering the other factors such as limitation of broadband/DSL/Wifi, mobile, etc. Thanks in advance.


To clarify my question a bit more, my company's server is PostGres RoR S3 to store media, and infrequent use of CloudFront due to our content may need revisions and CF's invalidation process is a deal breaker. So we don't use You-Tube or any third-party platforms as of yet. I'm the front end developer (you probably can tell by the way I described my company's server :P ). So we use HTML5 and a in-house video player we developed. No Flash, no HLS, etc.

1 Answer 1


What could do is show that Youtube transcodes to 4K at bitrates of ~20 mbps. You can use a tool like youtube-dl to check. Run youtube-dl -F URL So, your upload and download times will increase by a factor of 13-14, compared to the 1.5 mbps stream for 576p that you currently use.

Youtube is best placed in terms of expertise and motivation to minimize bandwidth use i.e. to determine the lowest bitrate that yields acceptable quality.

  • I'm sorry, I should be more specific and include that I don't use any third party service. My server is RoR PostGres and S3, no EC2 just S3 for storage and a few files using CloudFront but not many since my content needs to be revised once in a while. Although that workflow sound like a step in the right direction, I don't see us moving in the direction of You-Tube. I will update my question accordingly, thak you for yor prompt reply.
    – zer00ne
    Sep 14, 2016 at 2:46
  • I wasn't suggesting for you to use YT. My point is that the closest to a solid reference you will get is to see what bitrate YT settles on for 4K.
    – Gyan
    Sep 14, 2016 at 2:47
  • Thank you, I have found the bitrates that YT uses, at support.google.com/youtube/answer/1722171?hl=en , can you please post that in your answer and I'll go ahead and accept it. :)
    – zer00ne
    Sep 14, 2016 at 3:20
  • Those are not the bitrate YT uses - they are the bitrates required of the source videos that a user uploads. The youtube-dl tool shows the bitrate that YT serves to viewers - those are the pertinent numbers.
    – Gyan
    Sep 14, 2016 at 3:29

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