Ultra HD finally evolves beyond CES hype and into real products

Daniel Frankel, FierceCableIt has been hard to observe all the 4K/Ultra HD hype at CES the last few years without a healthy dose of cynicism.

With a multiscreen revolution going on outside, the touting of the television industry's next great resolution standard felt a little tone-deaf. Who is worrying about screen resolution at a time when we don't really know what the primary screen is anymore?

I wondered, even if TV manufacturers are able to convince consumers to make that increasingly incremental price leap to Ultra HD capability, who in the programming world is going to adjust their production pipeline to respond to Ultra HD?

But this fall has seen a steady drumbeat of Ultra HD programming announcements and studies, suggesting consumer demand and shipments are on the rise.

We had more major indicators this week, when Comcast rolled out its new Ultra HD programming service, complete with current shows from two major networks.

In the pay-TV business, this was the biggest step yet in terms of the development of 4K/Ultra HD into a mainstream consumer standard, trumping DirecTV's rollout in November of a handful of older Paramount movies and assorted nature documentaries.

Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) service launches as a somewhat realized product, enabling subscribers to watch full lineups of current series on NBC and USA Network in Ultra HD format.

The Comcast announcement came amid another indicator of growing demand in North America and Western Europe for the high resolution standard, with Futuresource Consulting predicting 72 percent compound annual growth for Ultra HD demand through 2017.

Indeed, Ultra HD arrives at CES in two weeks with a little more steak to go with the sizzle. And on Jan. 7, FierceCable is going to be all over this topic in Las Vegas, bringing together top executives from all corners of the video industry. Our panelists include:

  • Ty Ahmad-Taylor, Samsung
  • Mark Francisco, Comcast
  • Joe Inzerillo, MLB Advanced Media
  • Sean McCarthy, ARRIS
  • Raj Talluri, Qualcomm

Please join us for "The Roadmap to 4K/Ultra HD Readiness: How to Plan For Tomorrow's Resolution Standard" for some substantive talk and a solid breakfast buffet. You can register here.