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DTH to be the drivers of 4k

By PETER WHITE

Published: 25 January, 2013

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There were two schools of thought emerging from exhibitors at the CES Show in Vegas this month, over the new 4K TV resolution standard. One that says it's the next big thing, and another that says, "yes, but not in my lifetime." The ecosystem for ultra HD at 4K resolution (3840 x 2160) is the great white hope after the early demise of 3D after 3 or 4 years in the headlines.

The two schools of thought have come about because there are different segments in TV, some that cannot possibly ever shift a 4K signal around the planet, like terrestrial broadcasters, or others like cable and IPTV services, which have similar bandwidth constraints which they may solve one day. And then there are satellite TV players, which stand to gain in two ways. They need an edge over cable and IPTV, because those players offer broadband, and most DTH players cannot. And DTH players have plenty of delivery bandwidth from the sky.

The emergence of TV Everywhere and OTT, has pulled the rug away from many pay TV operators, because offering OTT was far more natural to Free to Air broadcasters, who had little to lose by offering their programs in catch up mode, on other devices. Pay TV has only just caught up with that trend, what with the extra complexity of protecting content on general purpose devices, which have now specialist security chips in them. But all that effort has mostly been the spending of money for just a defensive position.

Some broadcasters have begun to charge for OTT to new devices, but that's still an unproven model, and it was always easier for broadcasters to give it away, than for pay TV to find a new revenue stream on OTT video.

So DTH players will look to make money by applying this technology to its best content - sport, aimed at those rich enough to afford the massive premium on 4K TV sets, and yet keep down the cost of content production in 4K to just a few cameras.

Many believe that HEVC, encoding which is about to be ratified and reduces bandwidth by about half over H.264, will bring much needed relief. But we think that this instead will take pressure off delivery of HD, and will first be applied to bring down the delivery budget on existing content formats, before it is ever applied to 4K in anger.

We will have to wait until cable and telco operators push fiber deeper and increase speeds to 100 Mbps and beyond, before there is sufficient headroom for 4K and that is more 2025 than 2016. So don't be fooled by services which become available in 2015, they will be for the few really rich amongst us.

In order to continue to get Rethink TV you must register at the RethinkResearch twitter feed, be sure you sign up to it @rethinkresearch, this will be the only way we deliver Rethink TV after February.

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