"UHD is ready to roll": SES Ultra HD Conference @ the DTG, September 29th 2015

SES hosted a conference in London on September 29th 2015 that gave up-to-date views from industry experts on the introduction of Ultra High Definition (UHD) to the television market.

Opening the conference, journalist and industry analyst Chris Forrester said that UHD has taken huge steps forward over the past six months and cited UHD channels in China, Europe (France, Germany and UK) Japan, Korea, India as well as the USA.

He also said that SES, from its 19.2ºEast position, is transmitting several UHD channels and what made these channels so interesting was that they were not from the pay-TV community, where it was thought that the first move into UHD would be made. He went on to say "The momentum is building, all of these channels are finding content—don't let anyone tell you content isn't there. It most definitely is!"

DTG members can download the presentations from the UK UHD Forum by following the link on the right.

UHD TV sales hotting up as prices fall

Nick Simon of GfK, one of the world's most respected research organisations, gave an overview of the latest sales statistics together with expectations of how the market will develop. He said in 2014 televisions of 50 inches and over accounted for just over one quarter of market value, while in 2015 sales had already exceeded a third of market value—36%—with a quarter of the trading year remaining.

He said that one of the main drivers is affordability, as the cost of UHD TVs is rapidly decreasing. In September 2014, a 55 inch set was around £1,600 and in 2015 a 48 inch set was selling for less than a thousand pounds—£976. He said current sales have topped half a million three quarters of the way through the year and that in 2017 he expects the sales to reach the three million mark.

During the panel session '4k: Now or wait?' David 'Klaf' Klafkowski, managing director of The Farm, one of the world's busiest post-production houses, and currently handling TV series such as Downton Abbey, Jekyll & Hyde, and Dr Foster, said that all had been captured and posted in 4k but not delivered in UHD. He went on to say that there is now a genuine push to drive the High Dynamic Range (HDR) and the combination of large panels, more pixels and greater content is very compelling. If he was future-proofing his masters he said he would definitely want this extended range.

Thomas Wrede, VP Reception Systems at SES, said he envisaged that there would be more than a thousand Ultra HD channels by 2025 and that those being carried by satellite in Europe would number 225. He went on to say that the first commercial 24/7 UHD channels are being carried by SES and expected that more would be announced shortly. He also said that satellite had ample bandwidth and two UHD channels could be carried on one transponder: "It is an efficient means of delivery."

When asked if the BBC would introduce a UHD premium through an extra licence fee, as they had with colour television, Andy Quested, BBC Head of Technology, said that this would not happen as in his opinion people would not want to pay more for quality.

Stephan Heimbecher, Head of Innovations & Standards, Sky Deutschland, believes that HDR is the magic ingredient that will help UHD to fly and become a great success.

Dolby launches Dolby Vision television set

October 6th will see the launch of the first Dolby Vision television said Ian Lowe, Senior Manger EMEA—Imaging, Dolby Labs. He also confirmed that Warner Bros and Sony will release content in Dolby Vision while VUDU has been confirmed as the company's first partner to stream Dolby Vision content to the home.

Dolby Vision currently allows for 40 times more brightness than current standards and Lowe said that as monitors improve, Dolby Vision will be capable of delivering up to 100 times more brightness than is currently possible.

Phase 1 limited success, Phase 2 will transform UHD from niche to mass market

Only a handful of countries are currently offering UHD services but Thierry Fautier, VP Video Strategy of Harmonic, said this position would change dramatically during Phase 2 (2017-18) and would ensure that the market transformed from the current niche status to mass market.

Backing this conclusion, he cited research carried out by Texas-based Parks Associates who estimate that in excess of 40 million homes in the US will subscribe to 4k Pay-TV services by 2018.

Panel discussion—Standards, compression, picture quality

Thierry Fautier and his fellow panellists Eric Achtmann, Co-Founder, V-Nova), Richard Lindsay-Davies (CEO, DTG) and Thomas Wrede of SES agreed unanimously that much more needs to be done to educate the consumer and to shape their experience.

Richard Lindsay-Davies said that as this year unfolded they would be working much more closely with retailers to ensure they were thoroughly briefed on the benefits of new displays including the exciting prospects for UHD.

Chris Johns, Chief Engineer, Broadcast Strategy, Sky

There has to be a step change for UHD to be successful—a combination of various elements including better pixels, higher dynamic range, colour depth, all of which then have to translate into production, studio workflows and distribution.

He went on to emphasise the importance of adopted standards that would help allay any confusion. Sky tested HD for three years before putting it into the market place. He confirmed that Sky had been testing UHD for some time. "We want to make sure we know how to do it. We want to give viewers a 'wow' experience."

Members of the retail panel—Howard Saycell (CEO, RETRA), Rob Taylor (Home Entertainment Product Manager, LG), Peter Skyes (Strategic Technology Development Manager, Sony Professional) and John Adam (Head of Business Development & Industrial Affairs, Samsung)—called for more training of people on the shop floor selling the UHD products. John Adam strongly recommended that the Digital Europe logo be used and recognised for the benefits it encompasses.

Freesat to launch private 4k demo channel

In his closing remarks, Chris Forrester informed conference that Freesat, in partnership with SES, are launching a private UHD demonstration channel and are working with retailers to showcase 4K content in their stores so customers can experience the remarkable quality of 4k content.

Image: SES

DTG Staff  |  01.10.2015

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