Gary Davey, SVP Programming at Sky Deutschland, speaking at MIPTV’s special 4K event, said he believed that at least half of Sky’s current portfolio of 65 HDTV channels would be showing 4K content within five years of Sky launching a dedicated 4K Ultra-HDTV channel.
“I suspect SES will be first in supplying a feed of regular 4K content but the process will be a least another year or two before there are commercially driven channels available. Inevitably [a 4K service] will start as a demo channel, and probably in much the same way we manage 3D currently which is as a hybrid service. 4K will start that way but I think it will very quickly become the industry standard,” he added.
“There are some constraints to the business,” he explained. “Everything done so far is based on single camera usage. The challenge for us is to work out how we can cope with a 34-camera Formula 1 shoot, or a 22-camera Bundesliga soccer game. Managing the technical costs for that as well as the complexity for live TV is something that we must overcome. It is going to be expensive, but at the end of the day it is going to be worth it because when you look at the huge new screens and think about live football in real 4K, I think [the experience] will take us to a point that I have always wanted to be and that is for the viewer to be genuinely better than being there! I think that is now possible, and that’s why we love the idea.”
“We have experimented with how HDTV looks on a 4K set, and how 4K content looks on an HDTV display. There are no downsides in this process. We are committed to seeing 4K become the standard over time. None of us know for sure as to what the timelines are going to be, but we are investing now and thinking how the future will look,” he added.
Davey showed extensive footage of 4K test material, complete with a ‘Sky Ultra HD’ logo, and comprising travelogue-type material shot in London, of football and of Formula 1 practice sessions (courtesy of the Red Bull team).