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Speakers at the MIPTV Sony 4K Ultra HD Theatre opening panel presented a healthy picture of the uptake and prospects for the format, with platforms, equipment, and production all proceeding apace and HDR becoming increasing popular.
Joe Nakato, Senior Producer, Sony Corporation, noted a survey by the UK’s Digital Television Group which revealed that for two-thirds of UHD set owners, the experience had surpassed their expectations. Furthermore, the most popular viewing platforms among those who watch UHD content in the UK are Sky (32.17 per cent), followed by Netflix (17.39 per cent) and Amazon (13.48 per cent).
“Netflix and Amazon Prime already have some blockbusters in UHD which people are appreciating now. Netflix is even gearing up for high dynamic range for its 4K content in the mobile platform,” he advised.
“In Japan, satellite broadcasters such as Sky Perfect TV are already gearing up for 4K live. Their equipment is now upgraded for 4K HDR-ready,” he noted, adding that in 2018, all major Japanese broadcast channels would be able to broadcast commercially in Ultra HD via a dedicated satellite.
Hollywood studios were increasingly supporting 4K and HDR, with some 120 titles available via Blu-ray disc. “It’s not just Hollywood,” he said, noting that the BBC had made its popular Planet Earth II available in Ultra HD Blu-ray as well as undertaking an Internet delivery trial via the iPlayer. “HDR is also very good in the game experience, where you have much more crisp computer graphic image.” Virtual reality was also coming up in the market, with PlayStation VR, launched in October 2016, already having sold 1 million units.
Rian Bester, CEO of Insight TV, said in the last nine months, the broadcaster had “raised the bar” editorially. “We’ve put a lot more emphasis not only technically what we produce, but also the level of content. Some of the shows that will be launched this year will be testament to that.”
Noting a successful global roll-out across a range of platforms, Bester said the channel would be going live in the coming month in South Korea, with its biggest deployment to date. “In the Middle East, we’re doing some trials, also in our own back yard with KPN in the Netherlands and fingers crossed, this week we’ll conclude our first deal in North America for our UHD linear channel which will be a big step forward for us. It’s a tough market to break in, and we’re close to cracking that nut,” he declared.
He noted the ‘Two Bs’ that were the enemies of UHD: Bandwidth and boxes. “We’ve realised that some markets are just too slow for us to deploy our UHD linear channel and UHD in general in those markets, so we are launching today are SVoD application which will be pre-installed on televisions and UHD-capable devices.”
“People are looking for UHD content and some of the operators are just not ready for that, so we’re launching our SVoD application today,” he advised.