Traditional broadcasters are still leery of 4K ultra HD, while OTT media embraces UHD

by on March 9, 2015

Stephan Jukic – March 09, 2015

When CES 2015 opened with a bang in January of this year, lots of signs that the overall 4K market was really going to take off in 2015 were everywhere: Sales forecasts for UHD TVs were moving upward, the prices of these 4K TVs were moving down and even the content side of ultra HD ha some good news like the new 4K Blu-ray discs going for it.

And while this is all great and still looking good for the TVs and some sources of content, it isn’t translating so well to the broadcast media side of the entertainment spectrum. Unfortunately however, broadcast is still the biggest media source in the world.

The expected U.S sales figures for 4K TVs that came out of CES 2015 thanks to the CEA’s forecasts look great. The organization was expecting unit sales of UHD TVs to hit 13 million in 2015 and then even bumped this figure upwards to 14 million, an enormous leap from the 1 million units sold in 2014 and the 5 million expected to sell in 2015. Furthermore, they claimed that worldwide sales in this year alone would reach 23 million or more.

Furthermore, the justification for all of this lies at least partly in reduced per unit retail prices for these highly advanced TVs and on this front, that justification is quite apt given that between 2014 and 2015, many sets both old and new have emerged that finally cost well below $1000.

Additionally, when it comes to online, VoD and OTT content providers in general, the picture for ultra HD is not looking bad at all given that a number of new media sources are emerging as existing 4K providers like Netflix and Amazon constantly beef up their selections of 4K content now that they’re filming every new piece of entertainment in the resolution.

Even sources of traditional media like Blu-ray and DirecTV are taking the plunge into UHD with new 4K capable disc formats (Blu-ray) and the launch of new satellites (DirecTV) that are earmarked for broadcasting entertainment to millions of homes in full 4K resolution.

Nonetheless, despite all these positive indicators for this powerful standard-bearing new technology, the broadcast industry as a whole is still scared of UHD and particularly of live UHD broadcasting.

For starters, the biggest let-down to the technology came in the form of the IOC’s broadcast media division’s rejection of live 4K broadcasts for the 2016 Summer Olypics to a public audience. Instead of sending out live UHD feeds of the enormously popular events to even a limited public audience, the Olympic Broadcast Services division of the IOC claiming that it’s taking its cue from other broadcasters and avoiding the 4K leap. The CEO of Broadcast Services, Ynaos Exarchos, claims that the IOC would prefer to wait until the even more revolutionary resolution of 8K becomes a serious thing before broadcasting future games in that format.

4K ultra HD video production cameras

Part of the problem broadcasters face in switching to 4K media lies in the need for new film production equipment

Instead, they’ll focus on the rather unexpected technology of Virtual Reality as a new media to try out with next year’s games.

However silly the strange decision to favor VR over the much more popular and rapidly developing 4K for the upcoming games seems, we can’t entirely fault the IOC on this. As their Broadcast Services CEO said, they are taking their cue from traditional large broadcasters and those broadcasters are still definitely hesitant about ultra HD.

Due to a number of issues revolving around the expense of changing to new cameras, new broadcast hardware technology and even new screens for their editing studios, many mainstream broadcast media sources are dragging their feet as much as they can before finally taking 4K seriously for their live and canned video content.

So far at least, the main domain of ultra HD’s proliferation remains with the online streaming media providers and a very small number of more far-sighted broadcast media providers.

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    March 10, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    I thought that 1080 gave a sharp enough of a picture to show facial blemishes, just think of the detail that 4K will be able to reproduce. We will not need the before pictures anymore. We will be able to notice if MakeUp is doing their job. And, they are already working on 8K, uh, oh. The only place that Omaha has IMAX is at the ZOO.


  • kritikl
    March 29, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Traditional broadcasters are always the last ones to adopt the higher resolution. They should cut the budget for HD and instead re allocate that money towards UHD budget.


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