There is at least one pay TV service that is not in denial about the inevitability of 4K TV: the US satco DirecTV, now owned by AT&T.
DirecTV, long recognized for the quality of the videos it transmits, plans in 2016 to offer 4K channels, which will include some live sports.
Speaking at the TranSPORT conference in New York, DirecTV’s Phil Goswitz, SVP of video and space communications, said each 4K channel takes 30 Mbps of bandwidth and the company has the capacity to offer up to 50 4K channels in addition to its HD and SD channels. It is currently trialling the 4K service.
DirecTV: 40% of US homes will have 4K by Christmas
It will continue to broadcast its HD and SD channels but the future is clear that it will be a 4K world.
AT&T had said that one of the reasons it wanted to buy DirecTV is the ability of a satco to broadcast 4K with less costs to upgrade its network than for wireline pay TV services. For example, DirecTV launched 4K programming – VoD – in November 2014 and has put millions of its 4K capable Genie DVR in subscribers’ homes.
Goswitz said, “I think the belief that there are technology challenges is a bit of a misinformed myth. I think technology throughout the entire ecosystem is ready. But I think content is king; the plane is ready to take off and there is no king on board. So we are moving into working with partners who are enthusiastic about it and we are bringing our check books.”
As to the quantity of 4K TV sets available in subscribers’ homes, Goswitz said, “40% of people are going to have UHD TVs coming out of Christmas, and they are going to be looking for something to watch. Our goal is to have them tuned to DirecTV and have as much linear live content, especially sports content, as soon as possible.”
DirecTV is not the only pay TV service that is aiming to offer 4K content.
Canadian cableco Rogers Communications has launched a major 4K program that includes a 4K STB, 4K streaming from Netflix and Shomi and live 4K broadcasts of some sporting events. Vidéotron, another Canadian pay TV service, announced a 4K STB in August. Comcast has a 4K streaming app for Samsung 4K TVs and will soon launch a 4K STB. Dish will soon launch a 4K STB and offer a 4K service. However, DirecTV has been the most vocal about its 4K plans.
With its 4K launch, DirecTV will go to the head of the list of 4K providers, soundly beating out Netflix, Amazon, UltraFlix and other 4K OTT…
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