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4K Adoption for TVs and content heading towards a critical mass point

by on October 3, 2016

Stephan Jukic – October 3, 2016

The US Consumer Technology Association has released research which clearly indicates that 4K ultra HD technology in both TVs and to a lesser extent content development is clearly heading towards a critical mass point, with plenty of investment from major operators now pouring in.

First and foremost, from the consumer end of the 4K industry spectrum, the CTA’s recent research in the form of a consumer survey process showed that 62% of people interviewed had plans to buy a 4K ultra HD content viewing device in “some form” sometime in the next 12 months, covering a part of 2016 and a larger chunk of 2017. Of these consumers, a full 29% claimed to have plans for the purchase of a full-blown 4K TV with the rest either planning on other types of 4K display devices or unsure about their specific purchase.

Furthermore, among those who do plan on buying a 4K TV, screen size was the major driver of preference at 80% with picture quality trailing behind among 62% of potential 4K TV buyers. The issue of picture quality is particularly interesting because it’s a strong indicator of distinct preference for 4K display, which is known by the public for its perceived display benefits and technologies.

4K TVs now offer the most advanced display technologies like HDR

4K TVs now offer the most advanced display technologies like HDR

In terms of device shipments, the CTA is predicting some 15 million 4K TV units shipping to US consumers by the end of 2016 and this figure means an increase in shipments of 105% over that of 2015 in which 7 million 4K TVs sold on the US market. The 15 million unit figure means that nearly half of all TVs sold in 2016 in the U.S are in fact 4K UHD models, with roughly four tenths of all shipping orders being for 4K models. Even more impressively for the growth of 4K TV penetration, nearly all televisions sold with a display size of 50 inches or larger are now ultra HD models and price is a major factor in this latter development since wholesale prices per unit for these types of TVs have now decreased to an average price of $861, down from $1,049 from the average price for 2015.

We also have reason to believe that the vast majority of 50 inch plus TVs are being sold in the 4K resolution format because most of the major TV manufacturers are now placing their biggest promotional hype and best display technologies into these very televisions, with most of the big brands’ larger models being released in 2016 being of the 4K ultra HD type. Examples include Samsung’s entire line of 2016 premium 50 inch plus TVs being 4K models and Sony’s three major TV releases for 2016 all being 4K UHD models.

CTA communications director Jeff Joseph, speaking recently at the CEDIA 2016 event in Dallas, Texas also stated that “Diffusing video consumption behavior is particularly relevant as we look to the increasing development and distribution of native 4K content”

In other words the spread of 4K content popularity due to a growth in 4K TV ownership (or ownership of other 4K display devices like 4K monitors and projectors) is important as a signal for content developers who might be moving into 4K entertainment.

Thus, pay-TV providers are investing in the content end of the 4K spectrum and the numbers of such investors as well as the sums of money being poured in are both growing.

Live streaming 4K sportscasts of baseball games and other sports matches are already here in the U.S

Live streaming 4K sportscasts of baseball games and other sports matches are already here in the U.S

Examples of such investments are also worldwide, with companies like DirecTV and Dish in North America releasing their own broadcast and satellite content services and companies in places like Asia doing the same. One notable Asian example would be Hong Kong’s PCCW broadcaster, which is working to deliver 4K VOD (video on demand) content to its subscribers through the company’s nowTV platform, now Player app and ViuTV services. These services respectively represent IPTV, catch-up streaming through their app and OTT free-to-air platform (ViuTV).

Another example of the content-side growth of 4K video options internationally is Telefonica España, which is developing 4K content for 2017 and plans to have its entire in-house catalogue in 4K by next year for delivery to their new ultra HD set-top boxes.


The Spanish company’s Movistar service will in fact take 4K content delivery to the next level by offering live 4K soccer broadcasts from various major domestic teams. According to Luis Miguel Gilperez, president of Telefonica España, “Movistar+ will be housing 4K for everybody.”


These are just a couple of examples of 4K content investment from major international broadcasters. Others exist in other countries and the trend is only growing further. There is also the development of streaming online content to keep in mind for the growing 4K TV sales market. Companies like Vudu, Netflix, Amazon and BT Sport and others aren’t waiting for the broadcasters to catch up as they move forward rapidly with their streaming canned and live 4K content services directly to 4K TV internet apps for their respective platforms.

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  • Garret L.
    October 4, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Good thing Comcast (my ISP) just upped the data cap to 1TB because 4K HDR is going to hog dat data.

    “More than 99% of Comcast’s customers “do not come close” to using a terabyte of data, according to Marcien Jenckes, head of Comcast’s consumer cable services. About 8% of Comcast customers used more than the old 300 GB data cap each month.”

    Expect that 8% to climb after streaming 4K HDR.


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