DirecTV Getting Ready for 4K: Other companies follow same path

by on August 1, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – August 1st, 2014

Following in the footsteps of Netflix, Amazon Studios and several other companies such as Comcast and the BBC, DirecTV is gearing itself up for delivery of 4K video by later this year.

For starters, the company will open up its 4K services with UHD video on demand later in the year and from there they plan on moving into live 4K streaming for early 2015 or the beginnings of 2016 at the attest.

DirecTV president and CEO Mike White said this last Thursday that, “We’re working to secure some [4K] content” and that “We expect certainly in 2015 or early 2016 to be able to stream live content.”

As far as the streaming service goes, it follows along the same path laid out by Netflix and Amazon as both companies pledged not only to stream more and more content in the 4K format but also to film all of their new shows for the next year and beyond in the format thanks to 4K video production cameras, thus creating native 4K content for those who have the TVs or display monitors on their computers to enjoy it.

In the case of DirecTV, their live 4K streaming service will be dependent on the launches of two new satellites which are slated to go into orbit sometime in the next 18 months. These will give the company the additional live streaming capacity it needs.

However their 4K VOD service is fully expected to go operational long before the live streaming comes online.

Among U.S pay-TV providers, these UHD related plans make DirecTV relatively aggressive in moving ahead with 4K, given that the format is still in its earlier stages and a number of U.S companies remain leery about investing in it too early.

However, overseas companies in countries such as Japan, China, the U.K and South Korea are showing much greater interest and sales of 4K TVs in these regions, particularly China are exploding quickly.

Stateside, at the CES in January, DirecTV, Comcast, Netflix, M-GO and Amazon all publically pledged to offer packages of 4K content for Samsung Ultra HD sets and other 4K TV brands. However, Netflix and Amazon are the only ones among them who are actually also creating their own content in the format.

In the case of Comcast, the cable company is expected to launch its on-demand Xfinity 4K TV app by the end of 2014 and they are also working on a new generation of boxes for their X1 platform that can transmit 4K UHD content even over only modestly strong broadband connections thanks to the power of a new video decoding and compression codec called HEVC, or H.265.

For now, this remains one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the format, the lack of net connectivity powerful enough to handle streaming transmission, though major ISPs are apparently working to change that as well in the coming decade or less.

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