4K TV is becoming popular but content producers need to pick up the pace

by on November 10, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – November 10, 2014

Consumers are clearly showing a major preference for the Ultra HD experience if sales growth indicators for 4K TVs are anything to go by.

Just as was the case with Full HD, 4K is gaining steady and wider adoption only it’s doing so at a much faster rate of speed than that enjoyed by HD resolution when it came out. In just two years, the 4K format has become more widespread and grown further than HD did in its first 10 years of existence.

However, while TV, display monitor and even 4K video camera sales are taking off, the content side of the picture is still moving into the future slowly, which is also slightly ironic given increasing popularity of 4K UHD video cameras.

Currently, the main selections of Ultra HD content available to consumers consist of streaming services and their offerings. These can be bought from Netflix, Amazon Prime, UltraFlix (In the U.S alone) and several other streaming systems available on the European and Asian markets.

However, two problems exist with all of the above.

First of all, they are only accessible to 4K TV owners who have internet connections that provide at least 20 Mbps of connectivity. So far, these are a worldwide minority and even in the U.S only about 11% of households can get their hands on that kind of net speed. Worldwide the percentage is close to 7%.

Blu-ray discs coming out in 4K

Blu-Ray 4K discs that are going on sale in March of 2015 offer new hope for 4K content in homes without powerful web connections

Second and more importantly, even these 4K streaming content services offer limited selections. Netflix, which is definitely the most widely accessible of the 4K streaming media providers is expanding its selection of shows and movies but real growth is still at least a year away. Currently, their entire UHD selection consists of three TV shows and less than a dozen movies. Amazon’s selection is roughly comparable. Ultraflix, by Nanotech entertainment is available in the U.S.A but it also offers only a few dozen movies, shows, documentaries and sporting even and concert videos.

Fundamentally, these content selections are useful mostly as showpieces so users can really see the novelty of 4K content in native resolution. However, if 4K resolution is already moving away from being simply a novelty and thus it needs the kind of real content selection that exists with Full HD. Of course, this is slowly happening, but it needs to move faster.

For those who don’t have access to internet speeds fast enough for 4K streams, the available content selection is even more depressingly limited. Currently, certain brands like Sony are offering media player boxes for their UHD Bravia TV lines. These media players come with preloaded selections of ultra HD movies and shows which can later be expanded via VoD as the selection grows but the process is tedious and the offerings in the Sony media players are limited.

4K TVs from LG, Samsung or Panasonic offer even less content for their TVs.

Blu-Ray 4K discs are coming out in March of 2015, so these certainly offer a lot of hope for 4K content hungry owners of UHD TVs, and there are also plans by at least some broadcasters (particularly on the Japanese market) for the release of 4K terrestrial broadcasting channels.

However, in general, for the average owner of a new 4K Ultra HD TV, most of their content viewing will still remain in upscaled 1080p HD for the time being. Considering the prices of 4K TVs so far, this will turn off a lot of buyers who’d simply prefer to wait for further UHD television price reductions before committing. Why buy a more expensive 4K TV when you’ll mostly use it to watch the same HD content that looks fine on an HDTV?

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