The UHD device market continues to excel with media streamers, set-top boxes, games consoles and UHD TVs all demonstrating significant growth, according to analyst firm Futuresource Consulting. The quantity of 4K content that is being created is also growing, but there is limited delivery of it to consumers, the company finds in its latest 4K UHD Consumer Market Tracking report.
Futuresource forecasts that throughout 2017, 35 per cent of global TV sales will be 4K, taking the worldwide household penetration of 4K TVs to 8 per cent, as the average price continues to fall, and larger screens increase in popularity, many of which will be UHD as standard.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) is the new battlefield for device manufacturers. However, it is a more difficult consumer message to convey than the improved resolution. Furthermore, the industry is in danger of devaluing the term with no universally accepted definition of how much better than ‘standard’ dynamic range devices need to be before they can be labelled HDR. As such, there are many poor implementations in the market, branded HDR, but with little discernible improvement.
The UHD media streaming market continues to hot up, with new UHD devices from Roku, Amazon and Apple helping propel worldwide 4K shipments to account for 36 per cent of all media streamers sold throughout 2017.
“Despite the strong hardware sales and a significant quantity of content being shot, produced and stored in 4K, only a small proportion of that is readily available to consumers,” says Futuresource Market Analyst Tristan Veale. “Therefore, the content gap is appearing to expand as the demand for the higher quality hardware is outstripping the propensity to pay for UHD content. This gap will likely continue to widen until broadcasted UHD becomes more mainstream.”
The report finds that broadcasters must invest at multiple points, with this investment currently not being matched by the financial return from customers. As such, the upgrades and content acquisition are a challenging justification for many operators that are seeing increasingly suppressed margins.
Video on Demand providers of transactional and subscription content continue to gain momentum globally with Netflix banking over 1,000 hours of UHD content and UHD a renewed focus for Apple, Google and Amazon. Apple’s offer of 4K titles at the same price as HD on its iTunes store has already prompted a response from Amazon and Google, both of which have lowered the cost of 4K titles.
“UHD is increasingly standard across the key SVoD services, with many offering UHD content for no extra charge,” comments Veale. “As such, by the end of 2017 globally, it is expected that there will be over 33 million homes with a 4K TV and an SVoD subscription that offers UHD content. SVoD providers don’t face the same issues as broadcasters in delivering content, also problems with interoperability are significantly reduced due to IP connectivity. As such, continued growth of available content on these platforms is expected.”