SES says Hotwire out of trials, now the largest commercial application of managed 4K service in North America

Steve Corda, VP of business development for SES Americas, and Jurandir Pitsch, VP of sales and market development for SES Video in Latin America and the Caribbean, appear in front of their NAB booth in Las Vegas last month. (Fierce)

DENVER—European satellite distribution company SES said it has secured the largest commercial deployment yet for its turnkey Ultra HD service, with Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based operator Hotwire advancing from the trial phase of the service. 

According to Jonathan Bullock, VP of corporate development and government for Hotwire, the company has deployed 20,000 4K-capable Technicolor set-tops in its footprint, which covers the Southeastern U.S. 

Bullock said it is still trying to figure out how to package and price its Ultra HD channels. “That’s been the trick for us,” he said, noting that he doesn’t want to see the genre-based Ultra HD networks distributed by SES turn into fringe, upper-tier castoffs, as pioneering channels like HD New was a decade ago once the larger operators caught up on high-definition TV.

“In our region, 4K is something our customers are demanding,” Bullock added. “We’re trying to find a way to meet our customers’ needs and say ahead of the Tier one competition.”

RELATED: SES adds Tier 1 North American operators, expands into Latin America for end-to-end Ultra HD solution

Also speaking to Fierce at the Pay TV Show, Steve Corda, North American sales chief for Luxembourg-based SES, said the satellite company is investing heavily in its service, which offers fully licensed, packaged and transcoded Ultra HD programming networks—most of them genre-themed around topics like NASA—to a range of operators. 

While announcing new Latin American business at NAB last month, Corda said the company was closing in on 40 operators in various phases of trial and commercial deployment for the 4K service.  

“If we can enable [the fledgling 4K market], it will become an opportunity for us,” Corda said.  “As this continues to grow, we’ll see our monetization grow further. We’re tied into this from investment point of view.”

While touting the Hotwire news, SES also revealed that it has its next major pay-per-view event scheduled for June, with SES presenting live in 4K the BareKnuckle Fighting Championships from Cheyenne, Wyoming. 

As Corda noted, its the first sanctioned bare-knuckle fighting event since 1889—perhaps once again proving American society’s retrograde trajectory in terms of coarseness and brutality, all in crystal-clear Ultra HD.