4K HDR broadcasts coming from SKY Perfect JSAT

by on August 1, 2016

Stephan Jukic – August 1, 2016

The Japanese broadcast satellite operator (and sometime pioneer of 4K content broadcasting) is now embarking on its latest cutting-edge development in planning to launch the world’s first publically-available 4K high dynamic range broadcasts on October 4, 2016. This content will be released during the timeslots allotted for the company’s regularly scheduled dedicated 4K entertainment on their UHD channel, SKY PerfecTV”! 4K Experience, which was itself launched on May 1st of this year.

4K HDR broadcasts coming from SKY Perfect JSAT

The channel is available for free for anyone who has the right equipment to enjoy the SKY PerfecTV! Premium Service or the SKY PerfecTV! Premium HIKARI Service and of course this means that users who want to enjoy these HDR 4K broadcasts and the regular SKY 4K SDR content options will have to have either a specialized HDR 4K UHD TV somewhat similar to those such as Samsung’s 2016 SUHD models or one of Sony or LG’s HDR televisions.

In starting off these HDR broadcasts, SKY Perfect JSAT will be delivering an original drama called “Kera,”  which is part of their Yakubyogami Series). This will be aired in 4K UHD as part of a joint production by SKY and the Imagica Robot Group.

As for the type of HDR being used in these broadcasts, it is of neither the HDR10 or Dolby Vision formats so well known and increasingly used in the wider consumer HDR 4K content market in the U.S in particular. Instead, SKY Perfect JSAT will be using a so-called Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) standard for HDR, which has been developed by the public broadcasting giants NHK (of Japan) and BBC (of the UK).

The HLG high Dynamic Range standard being tested against an SDR display

The HLG high Dynamic Range standard being tested against an SDR display

The HLG standard was developed as a format that’s supposed to be most suitable for broadcast HDR and has now become an international standard as of July 2016. Thus is should become considerably more popular and accepted once broadcast HDR 4K media takes off, whenever that happens to be..

As for the viewer technology end of this HDR broadcast delivery spectrum, software updates for 4K TVs (on the Japanese market) such as Toshiba’s 4K Regza Z20X series will be delivered to consumer units as firmware downloads. These will enable these TVs to display the specific HLG HDR format. Compatibility updates for the 4K HDR broadcasts will also come to other TVs in Japan as October approaches.

If 4K broadcasting in high dynamic range really takes off, as we definitely expect it to down the road, we’ll see if the HLG standard becomes a dominant international broadcast HDR mechanism for content and thus also starts appearing in 4K TVs from major brands, like Samsung or Sony, sold in North America as well.

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