New UHD Blu-ray Format Won’t Slow Growth of OTT Services

Surely the universal availability of the cloud and ubiquitous broadband will make the new UHD Blu-ray format the last standard ever developed for physical media.

OTT services are the best and only way for consumers to watch 4K titles, so far at least. Wireline pay TV services — cablecos and telcos alike — have not made a public commitment to broadcasting linear 4K TV — only selling/renting 4K titles that are streamed to users over the Net just like the OTT services. Only DirecTV to our knowledge has publicly committed to 4K and its exact plans are not known such as whether it’ll be more that selling and renting 4K titles.

Could it be that the new 4K/UHD Blu-ray discs will threaten the OTT’s 4K monopoly?

The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) this week announced it will begin licensing Ultra HD Blu-ray products this summer and it’s working with the industry to get 4K content and Ultra HD Blu-ray products to market. Some months back it said there would be UHD Blu-Ray players in stores by year-end and there is nothing in the announcement that creates doubts about that happening.

However, as best we could tell at this year’s CES, Panasonic was the only company showing a prototype of a UHD Blu-ray player — strange for a new category of product that’s expected in stores by year-end. You’d normally expect to see lots of prototypes and announcements.

The UHD Blu-ray Logo

It’s noteworthy that the UltraHD Blu-ray logo does not contain “4K” but the BDA gave no explanation.

UHD Blu-ray logo

The BDA said the new format will include all the latest video standards and that players will also be backwards compatible with existing Blu-ray discs of which there are more than 10,000.

The BDA said the UHD Blu-ray format includes everything most would expect:
– 3840×2160 resolution
– Support for an expanded color range
– HDR (high dynamic range)
– High frame rate up to 60fps
– “Next-generation immersive, object-based sound formats,” which it did not name. So far there are two: DTS:X and Dolby Atmos
– The UltraViolet-like “digital bridge feature” that allows consumers to watch titles that they have purchased on a Blu-ray disc anytime, anywhere and on any devices, especially on mobile devices.

UHD Blu-ray discs can hold up to 100GB of data so the format may have uses in the IT industry. However, even that industry is moving away from physical media for storage and the cloud has become the norm.

The BDA said it’s “working closely with industry leaders in the authoring, testing, certification and replication industries to develop the tools and process needed to ensure interoperability between players and software and to facilitate the development of a robust ecosystem to support the hardware and title launch of Ultra HD Blu-ray.”

Victor Matsuda, chair of the BDA Promotions Committee, said in a statement, “For years, Blu-ray Disc has set the standard for high definition picture and audio quality in the home. Ultra HD Blu-ray will do the same for UHD home entertainment. The technical capabilities of Blu-ray Disc, in particular its significant storage capacity and high data transfer rates, will enable the delivery of an unparalleled, consistent and repeatable UHD experience.”

Matsuda did not use the term “4K” in his statement.

The BDA did not mention:
– The approximate price range for UHD Blu-ray players
– The companies that have

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The Online Reporter is the weekly subscription-based strategy bulletin about the enabling technologies of broadband, Wi-Fi, HDR, home networks, UHD 4K TV & OTT services; identifying trends in the Digital Media space. Only a fraction of our material here is published here. To see 4 free copies, follow the links above or go to

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