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First Major 4K TV Channel Announcement, and Not What You Expected

by David Mercer | 9月 17, 2014

An article in today’s TV Technology describes The Weather Channel’s (TWC) plans “to fully convert to 4K content acquisition, production and distribution by 2018”. Apart from a few highlights channels launched to support early 4K services in Asia, this is the first confirmation in the US or Europe that a major network plans to commit to the 4K/Ultra HD future. Indeed, its plans for 10-bit colour and 60fps confirm that fully-fledged Ultra HD is on broadcasters’ roadmaps.

As an aside, it scarcely seems possible that it was only seven years ago that I also noted Weather Channel’s plans to convert to HD, when the SD-HD transition was a “cost of doing business”. We are probably a bit too early in the Ultra HD process to use the same description today, but it will surely come sooner or later, even if TWC are now ahead of that curve.

TWC’s investments may come a surprise to some of those who attended the IBC Show 2014, where caution about content owners’ and broadcasters’ 4K plans was in evidence. Naturally enough, perhaps, given the inevitable increased costs associated with these upgrades across the video ecosystem. Networks, broadcasters and service providers are all nervous about the usual “where’s the money?” question and few want to risk a nasty sting from arrows in first movers’ backs.

So credit to The Weather Channel for going public on its commitment. OK, so 2018 is not exactly around the corner, but this was never going to be an overnight transition – indeed “transition” is probably not the best word, implying that all video will one day be shown in 4K. Even today, more than 20 years after HD broadcasts began in Japan, SD is still prevalent worldwide. We are at the beginning of a long process likely to be measured in decades rather than years.

David Mercer

 

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