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NAB Panel: 4K Adoption Needs Work

8 Apr, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey

LAS VEGAS — According to data from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), approximately 2.8 million Ultra-HD (UHD) TV sets will be purchased by Americans by the end of 2017.

And that’s not even close to the household penetration broadcasters need to really commit to 4K content, according to Vince Roberts, EVP of global operations and CTO for Disney-ABC Television Group.

“What is the value proposition for the broadcaster?” he said April 7, speaking during a 4K home entertainment panel at the annual NAB Show. “We don’t see much added revenue from improved resolution.”

While Walt Disney Co. is partnering with Netflix to deliver a half-dozen original Marvel series for Netflix produced in 4K, “past that, we don’t have a lot in the pipeline. It’s about the business model,” Roberts said. He estimated that it would take American household penetration of 40 million Ultra-HD TV sets before broadcasters begin committing themselves to full-time 4K content.

“[4K can] open the door to more immersive experiences, if the [delivery] infrastructure gets built out,” Roberts said. “Ten, 15 years down the road, who knows what we can do with it?”

Brian Markwalter, SVP of research and standards for CEA, said consumer acceptance and understanding of 4K TV is “quite far along for a year-and-a-half into the format.” CEA data shows about two thirds of consumers have heard of “Ultra-High-Def TV,” and nearly 75% of those surveyed said they believe home entertainment movies are the No. 1 content that should be delivered in 4K.

But adoption of 4K TV is still low, and part of the problem, according to Jimmy Schaeffler, chairman and chief service officer for consulting and market research firm The Carmel Group, is that consumers may be feeling a bit slighted by the consumer electronics industry’s push with 3DTV. 

Darcy Antonellis (the former president of technical operations and CTO at Warner Bros. Entertainment, who left the studio this year to become CEO of multiplatform video services company Vubiquity), said 3DTV isn’t dead, but consumers were turned off by the need for glasses, which “encumbered the experience,” she said.

Markwalter suggested that 3DTV was “positioned too much as the next generation of TV, instead of as a feature.”

To avoid 4K TV following the same consumer indifference as 3DTV, panelists suggested retailers and consumer electronics companies work more closely in educating the consumer about the benefits of the technology.

“Some terms have been taught to consumers,” Schaeffler said. “Others still need to be taught.”

And John Taylor, VP of public affairs for LG Electronics, said that the consumer electronics companies need Hollywood’s help in order to make consumer 4K adoption a reality.

 “Clearly in order to enjoy UHD TV, it’s about the screen,” he said. “[But] content is king … Hardware is the starting place, but content will drive [adoption]. Seeing is believing, but it’s about better pixels, not just more pixels.”

During the NAB Show April 7, panelists discussed the future of 4K content delivery. (L-R): Darcy Antonellis, CEO of Vubiquity; Brian Markwalter, SVP of research and standards for the Consumer Electronics Association; Vince Pizzica, senior EVP for Technicolor; and Vince Roberts, EVP of global operations and CTO for Disney-ABC Television Group.


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