Discovery Channel, like a number of other broadcasters, remains cautious about 4K

by on March 17, 2015

Stephan Jukic – March 17, 2015

Joining the ranks of number of other broadcasters who are taking the same general line, Discovery Network is also remaining rather cautious about making a leap into 4K ultra HD programming.

John Honeycutt, the CTO of Discovery, said in a recent interview for the Satellite 2015 “Daily” explained that, even though his network is already producing certain pieces of programming content in 4K UHD, the channel has no near future plans to actually launch a full-blown 4K service for audiences anywhere.

Nonetheless, he did explain that the total number of hours of 4K ultra HD content produced by his network in 2015 will be considerably larger than the amount of 4K made in 2014 even though even the 2015 ultra HD content will represent only a small fraction of the total programming from Discovery.

Honeycutt also explained that Discovery is currently busier with managing workflow and physical storage requirements around 4K data files created with some of the company’s more complex shoots and then putting all that data together effectively in post-production.

Furthermore, the CTO stated that Discovery wants to see three things come together before really moving into 4K production, and these things are: resolution (which is already growing firmly in place with 4K), high frame rates and wider color gamuts. These latter two still need further development and a number of production houses aside from Discovery are also waiting for them to develop more.

professional 4K production will require serious investment from Discovery Communications and other broadcasters

professional 4K production will require serious investment from Discovery Communications and other broadcasters

According to Honeycott, “Individually, we are able to capture enhanced frame rates today, and they obviously produce very high quality resolution. Color space is a new ingredient in the conversation, whether that is Dolby Vision or something else. When you bring those three things together, there is a unique experience”.

In the meantime, Discovery will essentially be “following the market” but Honeycott states that he has not yet noted a truly sufficient buzz about 4K, or at least not enough of one to justify the investment it would require.

As we’ve explained here before in other stories, Production houses working at a large, professional level will indeed have to invest quite heavily if they want to ramp their projects up to 4K. The investment will not only require new ultra HD camera equipment but also new storage systems, production hardware and software and new media transmission mechanisms that require a larger audience than already exists to become profitable investments.

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