US satellite pay-TV giant DirecTV (now part of AT&T) is currently testing Ultra-HD sport transmissions ahead of a formal launch of a 4K service “early in 2016”.
DirecTV’s Phil Goswitz (SVP, Video & Space Communications) confirmed the plan at the recent TranSPORT conference in New York. DirecTV has been offering OTT supply of 4K material since the end of 2014.
Responding to the question of where the biggest hole was in 4K/Ultra HD technology right now, Goswitz told delegates that DirecTV had capacity to launch 50 UHD channels today (at 30 Mb/s) on top of its normal portfolio of HD and SD channels, and that the technical challenges had largely been solved.
“There are only three questions – where’s the content? Where’s the damn content? Where’s the goddamn content?”
He continued: “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 cheque-books. Forty per cent 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.”
Goswitz confirmed the “early next year” plan, based on live UHD sport, on November 26.