Canada's Videotron rolls out 4K set-top as pay-TV's Ultra HD market grows quiet in the U.S.

Canadian MSO Videotron has announced what it's billing as the country's first pay-TV 4K set-top, a Samsung-made, eight-tuner-DVR-equipped device capable of storing up to 115 hours of high-density Ultra HD content. 

The set-tops will be available starting later this month and will allow subscribers to Videotron's illico pay-TV service to see a limited amount of 4K VOD programming on their Ultra HD sets.

The rollout in Canada comes as U.S. pay-TV operators, after making a flurry of announcements in December and January, have grown eerily quiet on the 4K issue.

DirecTV (NYSE: T), for example, introduced a limited number of 4K-VOD titles for its Genie platform late last year. It also launched a satellite over the spring that was supposed to increase its 4K distribution capacity. But the satellite operator is still touting the same finite number of older Paramount film titles and K2 nature documentaries it launched the service with nine months ago. 

Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) introduced an Xfinity TV app for newer model Samsung 4K sets in December and also said that it's going to deploy new set-tops that will deliver Ultra HD resolution via its X1 platform. But Comcast hasn't made any 4K announcements recently.

Likewise, at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) unveiled a 4K service for UHD-capable Joey set-tops. But there's still no ETA on when that service will arrive. 

Uptake of Ultra HD monitors is increasing, however, with IHS reporting a record 3 million shipments worldwide of 4K sets in April.

For its part, Videotron said it wants to kick-start a robust Canadian market for 4K content, the dearth of which has held back the growth of the technology all over the globe.

"As a leader in cable TV, Videotron hopes that its move into UHD will serve as a catalyst for the development of Canada's UHD ecosystem and spur all the players in the distribution chain to follow suit, from the movie studios and post-production facilities to the broadcasters," said Manon Brouillette, president and CEO of Videotron, in a statement. "Consumers will be the winners. With the advent of UHD, it will be possible to create an astonishing television experience for viewers. In terms of both image quality and fast, fluid navigation through the interface, illico 4K UHD will give our customers what is unquestionably the best in technology and entertainment."

For more:
- read this Videotron release
- read this Telecompaper story (sub. req.)
- read this Multichannel News story

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