The race for 4K ultra HD TV household penetration and expansion in other areas is on

by on July 31, 2015

Stephan Jukic – July 31, 2015

Everything seems to clearly show that the second half of 2015 will be a major year for 4K technology.

For one thing, these latter two quarters of the year are almost sure to usher in the number of new 4K TV service provider deployments and this alone is hardly surprising. As new ultra HD TVs with increasingly immersive and refined viewing on offer get promoted and go on sale, consumers themselves have been buying the TVs at what almost seems like an exponential rate. At the same time, the price of 4K TVs almost across the board has been trending downwards and in some cases has fallen by well above 90%.

Thus, service providers themselves are gearing up for this exploding popularity with growing menus of programming options.

The biggest factors in the dramatic increases in 4K TV popularity have been expanding consumer awareness thanks to intense marketing (every major electronics retailer showcases the TVs front and center by now, for starters) and falling cost. This latter factor of decreased cost has caused demand for the displays to soar as prices for entry level TVs dip below the $1000 line and in most cases sit at just over $1000 while offering better than ever connectivity and display options.

These dropping prices aren’t just the case for second tier brands of UHD television. Now, even the big three: Sony, Samsung and LG are offering some excellent sets for less than $1500 or even less than $1300 in some cases. LG’s TVs, however, remain as some of the priciest on the market and all three companies also sell premium 4K ultra HD televisions that cost well above $4,000.

Furthermore, the crucial component of the 4K ecosystem, of being able to deliver crystal clear resolution, amazing color and great contrast across a wide range of entertainment content options is also expanding. At the core of 4K content distribution and display are the video compression technologies which let 4K be streamed from third party content providers to TVs at a reasonable bandwidth.

These technologies, called HEVC (H.265) and VP9, are now widely available in virtually all UHD models. Their adoption has made content delivery to more consumers easier and in turn has led to greater development of entertainment content plans from producers and broadcasters even, as well as the real kinks of 4K content, OTT services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

4K streaing services are expanding and BT Sport now even offers a life sportscast 4K streaming channel via OTT

4K streaing services are expanding and BT Sport now even offers a life sportscast 4K streaming channel via OTT

All major forecasts from multiple independent research services are also clearly indicating the continued growth of 4K TV. HIS Research talks about major increases in sales during the next year and a half, ABI Research has spoken about 60% of U.S homes owning 4K TVs by 2020 and sources like Futuresource consulting predict sales of 4K TVs by the end of 2015 alone to go well beyond 30 million units shipped.

Content providers that offer 4K streams are expanding in range and also in the menu of videos they offer. We now have Netflix, Ultraflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, M-Go, Xfinity from Comcast and many others offering their content via OTT streaming. Then there is also Google’s YouTube with its rapidly growing library of free but spectacular 4K amateur movies.

The set-top box market for 4K content is also expanding and the most recent victory here has been an announcement by both Sky and BT Sport that they will be releasing 4K set-top content to subscribers in the European markets. BT Sport’s Ultra HD live sportscast streaming service, set to go live on August 2nd, in just a couple days, will be a revolutionary first of a kind and others that imitate it are sure to very shortly afterwards follow.

Overall, the future of 4K video, TV and resolution as a whole is looking very mainstream, and this is the best news any technology could have going for it.

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