This week we begin tracking another emerging trend: traditional pay TV channels being threatened by the apps that TV set makers are adding in their quest for a cut of the revenues of over-the-top services and to increase the availability of UHD content. Makers of UHD sets are driven by consumer demand for more UHD content, especially now that sales of UHD sets are a) declining in price faster than many expected, which is causing b) sales of UHD sets to increase faster than expected. For verification, ask any sales rep in an electronics store.
Currently, only Netflix offers UHD content that can be viewed on any brand of UHD TV (but not on every UHD set as we learned this week). The catch is that Netflix currently has only 10 pieces of UHD content but four are video-candy pieces that are intended to show off what native UHD content can look like — there’s not even any narration as a documentary might have. That leaves only six pieces of shows and movies. Fortunately, one is “Breaking Bad” and its 63 episodes and the other is the entire second season “House of Cards,” a US version of the BBC series from the year 1990.
One indication of this emerging trend is that Sony and Samsung have already begun assembling and offering libraries of UHD shows, a few free ones but mostly purchased. Samsung has contracted out the management of its library to a company called Deluxe and Sony’s TV division has probably assigned operation of its UHD library to a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
However, Sony and Samsung’s UHD libraries can only be viewed on their UHD TVs: Sony’s on-Sony TV and Samsung’s on Samsung TVs. That leaves other UHD makers such as LG, Vizio, Haier, Hisense, TCL and Seiki out in the cold. We have heard as yet unconfirmed reports that LG, Vizio and Seiki as well as Sony and Samsung are already in negotiations for UHD content that can be delivered over broadband via apps on their UHD TV sets Doing that means UHD set makers don’t have to wait for pay TV services to get their act together and start offering UHD channels. DirecTV has said that although it may rent/sell UHD shows on its VoD service this year, it could be 2016 before it can offer “live” TV channels. In the meantime the only source for UHD content is OTT services.
When pay TV subscribers are watching the UHD on a UHD OTT service, they are not watching the ads on traditional pay TV channels, which is very costly to owners of pay TV channels and to pay TV services.
If UHD set makers want to sell more UHD TVs by increasing the amount of available UHD content, they’ll have to do it over-the-top with…
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