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Media Executives Say 4K Ultra-HDTV Headed for Broad Consumer Adoption -- in 10 Years

9 Sep, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Despite a sluggish start due to unit pricing and limited available content, widespread consumer adoption of 4K Ultra-HD Television will be a reality within 10 years, according to a report.

Specifically, 80 marketing media executives in an Intelsat S.A. survey said the HD format could provide the competitive differentiation necessary to attract new subscribers to linear broadcast and cable television channels.

In fact, 42% of respondents said their companies have made a firm decision to launch a 4K UHD service, and have a specific timeframe for its roll out (23% within the next four years).

While the majority of respondents believe that 4K UHD adoption is inevitable — in stark contrast to 3DTV several years ago — there is disagreement as what sectors in the market will adopt first, and what the business models will be.

Digital cinema, over-the-top video and electronic sellthrough are the most widely mentioned segments for 4K UHD to gain momentum. In addition, 60% of respondents said they believe VOD would be the first business model to gain traction — nearly double the 34% who believe linear channels will be the first to implement 4K UHD.

“While it is becoming more evident that the transition to 4K UHD is highly likely, the road to adoption will take many paths, given the business model evolution resulting from the multiscreen viewing environment,” Peter Ostapiuk, VP of media product management for Intelsat, said in a statement. “As with HDTV, socio-economics, demographics and technology infrastructure will determine the adoption timeline.”

Ostapiuk believes media companies are focused on building the proper business model across multiple distribution platforms to optimize their return on investment.

Indeed, 47% believe 4K UHD will first take hold in Asia Pacific; 34% expect North America to be the early adopter and only 16% believe Western Europe would be the first to roll out the new technology.

That said, respondents cited higher transmission and content production costs (67%), availability of more-efficient transmission technologies (62%), affordable UHD TVs (51%) and ability to achieve a return on their investment (71%) as the key issues going forward.

Roughly a third of those surveyed stated that a critical mass of content (38%), sufficient household penetration (35%) and available 4K UHD-enabled set-top boxes (31%) are important factors in accelerating the roll-out of 4K UHD. Movies (53%) and sports (42%) are the most widely identified types of 4K UHD content expected to gain momentum first.

Not surprisingly, Ostapiuk, whose company caters to the satellite TV industry, contends the channel will play a significant role in the rollout of 4K UHD.

"It’s clear that our [satellite TV] customers will introduce 4K UHD as a way to distinguish their brands,” he said.

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