DirecTV lays out 4K plans

As previously reported by Advanced-Television, DirecTV has again confirmed it is working on a US nationwide introduction of 4K transmissions. CEO Mike White told financial analysts that the pay-TV broadcaster would be ready for 4K. “We always want to be leading our industry,” he said, “and 4K is no exception.

White said a deal with Samsung of South Korea would see programming fed from DirecTV’s own ‘Genie’ set-top box for 4K viewing, and would commence during this current quarter-year. “The preloaded number of movies is flexible, so if demand is strong, we can preload more movies into the hard drive,” he said, noting that DirecTV’s already secured rights for “maybe a dozen” movies in the 4K format. “It’s very early days for 4K.”

DirecTV is about to see its revolutionary DirecTV-14 launched by Arianespace on December 4th. Built by Space Systems/Loral, the new satellite was delivered to the launch its on October 15th for pre-launch preparation. “DirecTV-14 shows our commitment to the latest in satellite technology, including the development of a full broadcast payload for Reverse Band DBS spectrum and the leading edge delivery of 4K UltraHD video services,” said Phil Goswitz, SVP, Space & Communications at DirecTV, speaking a month ago.

Mike White said the new satellite would allow DirecTV to introduce additional 4K channels during 2015. Meanwhile viewers would be able to watch live linear 4K material as well as pre-loaded SVOD material.

He cautioned that it was very early days for 4K. “My understanding of the total number of [4K] TVs sold this year is maybe a million. I know for a fact that a number of the television set manufacturers are hoping to have multiples of that sold in 2015. Initially, the 4K offering in the fourth quarter is going to be VoD only.  For those customers who have that Samsung TV as well as our Genie HD DVR, we’re going to load a few 4K movies onto the hard drive for instant viewing. In addition, we’ll have additional 4K titles that those customers can select, which they could download overnight. The preloaded number of movies is, of course, flexible. So if demand’s strong, we can preload more movies into the hard drive. But let’s understand, it’s very early days for 4K.”

“Once our satellite goes up in December and gets fully deployed in the first quarter of next year, we will have the capacity to both do substantially greater VoD as well as live streaming. And I’m not going to get into the specific number of channels now. And frankly, I think, to be honest with you, we need to see who’s interested in a channel. I’m guessing, at least initially, it’s more likely to be event driven or VoD driven, but we’ll be prepared to do live streaming next year.”

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