More UHD content will be available to stream in parts of Europe by the year-end. European transactional OTT service Wuaki.TV is the latest OTT service to join the 4K arms race.
It will offer 4K UHD titles as of Dec 1. The 4K titles will first appear in Germany and France. The company said it hopes to add 4K titles to its service in Italy in the following weeks, and is currently in negotiations with content owners to offer 4K titles in the UK and Spain.
“More and more of our customers are beginning to demand movies in 4K, as TVs with the technology become commonplace in the home,” said Jordi Miró, chief technology officer at Wuaki.TV. “We expect 4K will become increasingly popular towards the end of the year and into 2015, as consumers in Europe buy new TVs around Christmas time, upgrade to smart TVs, and 4K prices begin to drop as more devices come to the market. We’ll be ready for this when it happens so, as soon as a 4K TV is plugged in for the first time, everyone will have access to a quality catalogue of on-demand 4K content from Wuaki.TV.”
Wuaki.TV is currently available on smart TVs from Samsung, LG and Panasonic. It first demo’d its 4K streaming at the IFA show in Berlin earlier this year on Samsung and LG sets, so it’s unclear if Panasonic TVs will get the UHD library initially. At the time, Miró described the addition of 4K titles as “one of our most important and relevant strategic moves for Wuaki.TV.” The company hasn’t yet said what minimum broadband speed it will require for streaming the 4K titles, nor did it specify which titles it would offer in UHD resolution.
Wuaki.TV, which is owned by Japanese online retailer Rakuten, spent most of 2014 expanding across Europe. The service is now available in four countries: Spain, Germany, France and the UK, with a launch in Italy expected in the coming months. It plans to launch in another 11 countries by the end of the 2015.
OTT Services Are First to Market in UHD
All other sources of UHD content are available only online. They include NanoTech’s UltraFlix, a pay-per-view and ad-supported streaming OTT service, the first dedicated 4K streaming service. UltraFlix has a library of around 500 hours worth of UHD content, ranging from films to documentaries to music concerts and sports programs. The UltraFlix UHD service is available on Nuvola net-top boxes, as well as via an app on Vizio and Samsung UHD TV sets.
Earlier this month, we reported the Technicolor and DreamWorks joint OTT venture, called M-GO, has begun offering UHD content for purchase or rental via its transactional OTT service.
“As technology continues to advance M-GO is convinced that the next ‘living room’ TV you buy will be a UHD TV, and the company is developing its content to align with that vision of the future,” the company told The Online Reporter. M-GO’s current library of UHD content is only available on Samsung UHD TV sets.
Netflix continues to add UHD titles monthly to its library. It has also expanded the device reach of its UHD service. Earlier this month, Netflix added its 4K library to Panasonic’s AX802 UHD smart TVs. Netflix requires a 25 Mbps broadband connection to stream UHD titles without interruption, and new subscribers will pay $11.99 per month to access the titles, as opposed to the $8.99 monthly price for regular HD titles.
Amazon is also bringing 4K titles to its subscription streaming service, Amazon Prime. Amazon plans to release its originals “Transparent” Alpha House” and the upcoming “Mozart in the Jungle” in 4K resolution for its viewers by the end of the year, along with the Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett live concert “Cheek to Cheek.” Amazon said it won’t charge extra for access to UHD titles. “We’re confident that offering Ultra HD content, whether it’s a TV series or a film, will help create the ultimate viewing experience and can’t wait to start making it available this year,” said Michael Paull, VP of digital video at Amazon.
Only a Few Pay TV Providers Are Launching 4K Services
A handful of pay TV providers around the world have also begun releasing UHD content.
In the States, the satco pay TV provider DirecTV will offer a handful of UHD titles in its on-demand library, available on select Samsung UHD TV sets. DirecTV will offer 20 titles, including the “Star Trek” from 2009, “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “Forrest Gump,” “Coral Reef Adventure” and “The Ultimate Wave Tahiti.”
In Germany, Sky Deutschland will broadcast live coverage of a concert in 4K resolution next month. The broadcast will appear on German TV from Fanta 4’s December 20th concert in Stuttgart’s Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle. According to the release, the concert will be broadcast in 4K resolution to “select homes” as well as pubs and bars, via the Sky Sports pay TV channel. The concerts and behind-the-scenes footage, all filmed in 4K, will be released later in cinema theaters in Germany.
Satcos SES in Brazil and Sky (formerly BSkyB) in the UK have also made statements about launching 4K video services. SES has launched a new satellite, reportedly in anticipation of delivering 4K services to subscribers. Sky has participated in a number of UHD broadcasts for special events, such as Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League tie with Olympiakos back in 2013.
4K Sales and Shipments Continue to Grow
4K deniers often point to a lack of UHD content as one of the reasons it’s still “too early” for 4K, but it looks like UHD content is becoming available in tandem with growth in 4K TV set sales.
Also out this week ….
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