Russian pay-TV broadcaster NTV Plus is looking to launch a 4K service later this year, or early in 2015. Oleg Kolesnikov, NTV’s Technical Director, says the recent 4K test transmissions carried by NTV Plus at the Sochi Winter Olympics were a huge success, proving that end-to-end signals could be carried successfully. NTV Plus carried the opening and closing ceremony in 4K.
Gazprom-owned NTV Plus was established in 1996 (and founded by Vladimir Gusinsky’s Media Most operation) and now offers a wide portfolio of SD and HDTV channels.
Kolesnikov, speaking at last week’s MIPTV special 4K event and where he showed footage of the Games, said the technical processes all went well. He recognised that the next two-to-three years would be crucial, not least with the lowering of prices of displays and large-screen TV projectors. “But the differences between HD and Ultra-HD TV is very noticeable. We need the new HDMI 2.0 interface, otherwise we are limited to 25/30 frames per second on the existing HDMI 1.4. New chipsets, which will emerge later this year, and set-top boxes, will mean that viewers will be able to see fast-moving sports at 50-60 fps.”
“Once these new elements are available then real sports content can be handled and delivered to the public. Sport, both for home viewing but also for cinema distribution is all-important. We at NTV Plus have plenty of experience in handling sport to cinemas in 3D, and we see this experience continuing. 4K will be the next level, perhaps for events such as the FIFA World Cup. When in 2018 the World Cup soccer takes place in Russia the 4K technology will be mature enough for mass-market adoption.”
“So far we are still testing and proving the technology,” says Kolesnikov. “We are in discussion with content providers who have 4K material, and it is our hope that by the end of this year or early next year we will launch some sort of 4K service. It will not be 24/7 but is likely to be initially a programming block within our bouquet.”