ESPN says no to dedicated Ultra-HD channel

The first Ultra-HD channels are likely to arrive from payTV broadcasters, but ESPN won't be one of them after declaring it didn't want to make the capital investment. ESPN is however experimenting with 4K cameras in production.
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The first Ultra-HD channels are likely to arrive from payTV broadcasters, but ESPN won't be one of them after declaring it didn't want to make the capital investment. Speaking on a panel session devoted to the future of 3D broadcasting at CES in Las Vegas, Bryan Burns (pictured), ESPN's VP of Strategic Business Planning said: “I don't see us launching ESPN 4K. There might be a gradual evolution to 4K but we're not going to create a [dedicated] channel. I don't want to make the capital investment because by the time we get to 4K we will be onto 8K or whatever.” ESPN is however experimenting with 4K cameras in production. “4K acquisition could be used to show higher-resolution close-ups [in HD] but I don't see us heading down the road of a 4K channel,” he added. BSkyB and Sky Deutschland are examining the technical possibility of end-to-end production and transmission and the business models that might go with an Ultra-HD launch. Burns' focus is on building out ESPN 3D, for which the arrival of 4K Ultra-HD consumer displays is likely to be a bonus since it should speed the introduction of decent quality autostereoscopic screens. Approximately 21% of US homes now have a 3D-capable television set, after 5.6 million sets were sold in 2012, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. While 3D TV sales have fallen short of industry’s hopes, video viewing in 3D is on the rise, with 42% of 3D-capable HDTV owners watching at least five hours per week. "What we thought three years ago is that people would go into a store to buy a 3D TV," said Burns. "What we found instead is that people wanted a really good HD TV that happened to also have 3D in it." These themes will be played out throughout the year and highlighted at Beyond HD Masters, Tuesday 11 June at BAFTA: www.beyondhdmasters.com Adrian Pennington

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