Broadcasters could launch Ultra HDTV test channels 'next year'

05 Oct 2012  |  Niall Johnson 

A report by Credit Suisse, which looks into the current state of Europe's satellite industry, predicts that broadcasters in the US and Europe will begin broadcasting Ultra HD test channels by 2013.

The report states that Ultra HD (commonly known as 4K, due to the 4,000 pixel resolution display - double the amount of current HD) would have a positive effect on broadcasters, increasing the demand from the pay-TV industry and leading to greater use of satellite bandwidth.

Estimates from the report forecast a speedier uptake for the new technology than its predecessor, HD TV. "We forecast 5 Ultra HD (4k) channels in 2013 growing to 135 by the end of 2017. From the HDTV launch in the late 1990s/early 2000s the number of HDTV channels grew to 548 in 2010, after roughly 10 years, and reached 797 by the end of 2011."

Another positive aspect highlighted by the report is the fact that the transition to Ultra HD will be smoother, due to the faster life cycle of TVs. "In the early 2000s when HDTV was launched," says the investment bank's report, "a lot of consumers were still watching analogue TV. Analogue customers cannot watch HDTV, even if they have an HDTV set, which reduced customer uptake and the initial willingness among broadcasters to invest in HDTV.

"We believe all SD customers will be able to add Ultra HD programming if they have an Ultra HDTV set in the same way as they can currently watch HDTV programming."

The news comes days after Sony unveiled their gigantic 84-inch 4K Bravio set, although questions were raised about the current ability to broadcast live TV at such a high resolution.

Earlier this week in the US,satellite pay-TV operator DirecTV re-emphasised its commitment to 'next generation' Ultra-HDTV transmissions, which are expected to start in four years time.

Despite all the noise begin made within the industry, analyst house IHS says that consumer demand for televisions with the ultra-high-definition 4K resolution will remain negligible for the foreseeable future, with shipments never accounting for more than 1 percent of the global LCD TV market during the next five years.

More details on the Credit Suisse's report can be found over at Advanced Television.

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