Russian OTT Services Provider Play to Launch 4K Service in Russia and Europe

by on August 15, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – August 15th, 2014

The Russian provider of OTT (Over the top) services Play is developing plans to introduce a 4K video service later this year, at first to audiences in its native Russia and later internationally, further fanning the flames of 4K resolution adoption worldwide.

According to Play CEO Leonid Belyaev, speaking at the Digital TV CEE conference in Budapest earlier this summer, Play is in the final stages of negotiating content rights for 4K services from Hollywood studios.

According to the CEO, the service will offer first-run Hollywood films in 4K format and as such requires some careful security measures to be implemented. The primary focus of PLAY’s OTT 4K service will be distribution through 4K Smart TV sets, partly because these devices are more secure than some other 4K set types that might rely on HDMI to deliver content to a TV screen.

The service by Play is expected to be launched during the third or fourth quarter of 2014 and aims to counter the currently existing lack of 4K content in Russia and worldwide in general. According to Balyaev, “Play wants to be able to tell people to buy a new 4K TV”. He said that the bandwidth requirement for his company’s streaming service would be somewhere between 12 to 25 Mbps and that because of this, the company will start in major cities with optical fiber networks that can be used for a reasonable price.

The 4K service offered by Play will then be transmitted via adaptive bit-rate streaming that’s encoded in the HEVC codec commonly used for 4K transmission by other companies such as the BBC and Netflix.

Belyaev also claims that he believes, 4K will offer a 40% premium per titles delivered to customers over what the company’s existing HD OTT service offers. The initial focus of the company will be on electronic sell-through of streamed content due to its already well-established success in Russia, where rental of movies was never a very popular service.

All content bought by users will be stored in the company’s proprietary digital locker in order to prevent piracy of popular first run Hollywood films.

The Play CEO also explained that his company was looking at international expansion of its 4K service, possibly as early as the beginning of next year. Their main focus will be the European market, where many countries actually possesses pretty decent broadband connectivity rates (particularly Austria and the Czech Republic). “We are looking at international expansion next year, starting in Europe”, Balyaev said. “We can test our belief in Smart TV and see how it resonates”.

Currently, Play has about 5 million registered users inside Russia and the promotion of popular movies and shows in 4K via OTT to its customers will be an excellent medium of promotion for wider international adoption of the format in general.

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