Want a recipe for hours of intense debate about the future of TV? Try this one: Using a base of pay-TV execs, add a broadcaster, a pinch of content owners, a dash of vendors (hardware, software, encoders, OVPs, CDNs, whatever’s at hand), and toss in a couple of analysts. Mix well and open the discussion to 3DTV and 4K, or UltraHD. Voilà… There’s little doubt that both are hot topics with lots of divergence.
In the case of 3DTV, for example, there are a lot of folks out there saying it’s a hot hardware market. A recent NPD DisplaySearch report on 3D display technology forecast the 3D display market would grow from 50.8 million units and $13.2 billion in revenue in 2011 to 226 million units and $67 billion in revenue in 2019 worldwide. Not all of those displays are TVs, but NPD said 3DTVs are likely to create the largest revenue stream in the sector with anticipated growth from 25 million units in 2011 to approximately 180 million units in 2019.
Let me be a bit of a curmudgeon and introduce some of my own research backed with a dose of common sense—delivered by my wife, in this case—that may be apropos:
I recently brought home a smart TV with 3D built in (as many do today), and, two sets of 3D glasses. My wife’s response to the purchase? “There’s no way I’m going to sit here with those on,” my wife said, pointing to the glasses. End of research study… 50% of potential consumer reject the current product.
The amount of 3D content available also is pretty thin, aside from animation. You begin to see just how challenging 3D is. Of course, supporters suggest that as more 3DTVs come to market, content will follow, which will drive more 3DTV set purchases. A nice, clear virtuous cycle.
Research firm Informa says 3D is becoming de rigueur in new TVs, but it hedges its bet on technology that will allow viewing without glasses. “3DTV set penetration will take off, as TV set manufacturers embed the technology into a high proportion of their sets,” Informa wrote in April. “But take up of 3D content services will be limited, at least until the technology has progressed significantly so that a natural viewing experience, without glasses, is achieved.”
The story for UltraHD is a little different.
Initially, critics suggested 4K would have a tough time following 3DTV, especially as the 3D market appeared sluggish. But that caution has begun to ease as OEMs integrated 3D into new models.
Now, UltraHD is getting more play, and is expected to move quickly into the market. NPD forecasts more than 500,000 4KTVs shipping in 2013 and more than 7 million sets by 2016.
Sony, LG, Samsung, Sharp and others, all have plans to ship Ultra HD models this year, most in the 50- to 110-inch range.
Content, a critical component to adoption, also is coming on line.
“There is also a push to increase TV content,” Paul Gray, NPD DisplaySearch TV electronics research director, said earlier this year. “The availability of content is key to consumer adoption of 4K-by-2K TVs, and TV manufacturers are anxious to prevent any potential delays that could stall adoption, as was the case with 3DTVs. Investments are beginning to ensure that 4K-by-2K content is readily available to consumers.”
There were several announcements about proprietary 4K streaming and download services made at CES, and the pace of announcements has accelerated as the marketing efforts behind 4K hardware have picked up.
Today, for example, startup eyeIO (Full disclosure: eyeIO is a client of Radi8Creative) announced that it was working with Sony Pictures on a project that will enable the studio to deliver 4K UltraHD content to the home.
Sony will use eyeIO’s compression encoding technology on a variety of movies, including Bad Teacher, Battle: Los Angeles,The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Karate Kid (2010), Salt, Taxi Driver, That’s My Boy, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Other Guysand Total Recall (2012), that will be available to watch on Sony’s UltraHD TVs via the Sony 4K media player, which is scheduled to launch this summer.
eyeIO’s core video technology processes, compresses and encodes the 4K source files into a format that uses less bandwidth, making distribution more efficient and conserving storage space on devices as well as bandwidth costs.
“We are confident that eyeIO’s capabilities are perfectly matched with Sony’s commitment to high quality viewing experiences as well as creating and delivering captivating content to enhance the viewing experience of audiences everywhere,” said Rodolfo Vargas, CEO of eyeIO.
The assets encoded at eyeIO’s Palo Alto headquarters are full 4K UltraHD, 3840×2160 resolution and include support for extended gamut color (xvYCC).
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