Adoption of 4K entertainment over the internet (OTT) to soar according to research

by on August 16, 2016

Stephan Jukic – August 16, 2016

According to findings from the firm Juniper Research, 4K OTT (Over the Top, internet transmitted) content will see explosive growth in its adoption, range and mass-market appeal in the next few years.

According to the research firm’s “Digital TV & Video: Network and OTT Strategies 2016-2021” report, 4K ultra HD OTT services will attract at least 189 million unique users worldwide by 2021, driven by a much wider content availability, far more compatible devices in consumers’ hands and a much broader access to high speed broadband internet connectivity. This is a nearly ten-fold expansion from the just over 2 million users currently accessing 4K OTT content sources today.

In the U.S market, the above forecasts will mean that by 2021, 1 in ten residents of the country will be watching 4K programming and other entertainment sources online, mainly through web-connected 4K TVs but also increasingly through next-generation PC displays, tablets and even smartphone displays (since 4K smartphone screens are widely expected to become more common). Today only 1 in 500 U.S residents watch 4K content through their TVs and PC displays in some cases.

The Juniper Research findings also found that one of the biggest detriments to faster growth of 4K content popularity is the simple fact that the content itself isn’t widely available enough to spur both more powerful internet connectivity investment and purchases of 4K display and delivery devices.

4K TV sales are expanding while the prices of these units fall rapidly as well, contributing to the growth of the UHD content market

4K TV sales are expanding while the prices of these units fall rapidly as well, contributing to the growth of the UHD content market

The company’s research found that while sources like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon and others are expanding their content offerings, there is no critical mass on the market quite yet, even with the further advent of other OTT content sources like Sky Q 4K in the U.K and satellite transmission sources in the U.S.

Specifically, device compatibility has been a considerable barrier to 4K video adoption in the past and as Juniper researcher Lauren Faye explains about the report,

“The popularity of online video has seen the use of set-top boxes from vendors such as Roku and Amazon soar. However, delivery mechanisms for content have seen slower adoption, as the availability of 4K capable streaming devices is limited. New device launches, such as the 4K capable Xbox One S this month, among others, are likely to spur a boost in 4K usage.”

None of these difficulties are however expected to stop the growth of 4K OTT services and the even further technologies which develop beyond them. In the U.S, Canada, Europe and several other countries around the world, 4K broadcast satellite TV services are already emerging and in the case of some markets, certain companies are thinking even further down the road with 8K broadcast TV already on the cards.

OTT services like Sky Q are popping up all over the place with even live 4K content

OTT services like Sky Q are popping up all over the place with even live 4K content

This particular eventuality is already being seriously developed in Japan, by the country’s state broadcaster NHK, which has already started broadcasting 8K content of the 2016 Rio Olympics and other programming on a trial basis. Thus, aside from the growth in 4K TV entertainment, we can likely expect to see a repeat of the same development process but with 8K TVs and content by the time Jupiter’s predictions for 2021 come to fruition.

The research company is in fact also predicting this exact thing and in its report states that they expect to see shipments of 8K smart TVs to reach nearly half a million per year by the time 2021 rolls around. We don’t at all doubt this prediction because nothing we’ve yet seen develop in the 4K TV and content market has made us doubt its steady march into the mainstream. On the contrary, all previous predictions about 4K TV and content adoption have been not only met but in some cases even exceeded so far.

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