Report: “At least six” pay TV broadcasters set to launch UHD services this year

A report published by media consultancy firm Fairmile West says that “at least six major pay TV broadcast operators will launch UHD in the second half of this year.” The report, written by consultant Nick Russell, gathered industry views on the deployment of UHD services at IBC 2014. It indicates that OTT and VOD operators are leading the way in the launch of UHD services, unconstrained by the issues that face the production and broadcast of live UHD content.

Netflix and Amazon, among others, have announced a range of TV shows and movies to be released in 4K UHD this year. Although OTT and VOD operators have the advantage, several Pay TV broadcast operators, according to Russell, will launch UHD services this year.

“The evidence then is that generally, despite the challenges and risks of launching prior to phase 2, many Tier 1 broadcasters are now being forced to prepare for launch of limited UHD commercial services in the 2015-2016 timeframe in order to have an answer to OTT and be in time for the 2016 Olympics.”

The report continues, “much of the opinion and evidence of activity gathered around IBC suggests that industry is sufficiently confident and determined that the challenges (technical and business) will be overcome and UHD will certainly succeed where 3D has not.

“We asked a range of industry players their view of when mass deployment would start (‘more than a handful of services’) and received surprisingly aggressive forecast ranging from 2016 to 2020, and averaging 2018 in the belief that: sufficient content will be available; and Phase 2 standards are fixed and implemented, positively enabling the consumer ‘wow factor’.”

Russell observies that “this contrasts starkly” with other studies suggesting it will not be until 2020-23 that the number of UHD channels becomes significant. Among the conclusions drawn, “industry seems clearly of the opinion that the challenges will be overcome and UHD will be much more successful than 3D.”

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