While the technical infrastructure for ultra high definition broadcasting will be ready by 2017, it will take a decade before there are enough Ultra HD-equipped homes and sufficient supply of content for the format to reach mass market.
That timeline is a little quicker than that charted for HD and is largely due to the introduction of the compression codec HEVC, which will also benefit HD and IP distribution.
The report by analysts IHS Electronics & Media, finds that by 2020 there will be more than 200 Ultra HD channels worldwide, rising to over 1000 by 2025. Between now and then Ultra HD TV will go from technical standards to technology ecosystem to commercial mass market, it finds.
“This will broadly align with the launch of HDTV, which was confirmed as a technology standard in 1990, reached technology ecosystem availability in 2002 and commercial mass market in 2006,” states author/analyst, Tom Morrod. “Ultra HD will happen much faster, equivalently having the technology ready and available before 2017 and commercial opportunities for pay TV operators and content makers by 2023.”
By 2017 pay TV operators will start to switch off their MPEG-2 transmissions to accommodate more HD and Ultra HD channels. Homes in advanced markets will also start to reach the threshold of mass market technology, when around 3% of households have a UHD TV set.
“Driven by major events like the World Cup and the Olympics, Ultra HD will start being trialled in 2016 and transmitted in 2018. By 2023 the market will be mature enough to reach commercial mass market, offering the opportunity for all parts of the supply chain to gain significantly from Ultra HD,” it states.
The report continues: “The opportunity is underlined by the supply of UHD TV sets by major brands putting screen sizes of 70-inches and above at attractive prices to encourage Ultra HD into the home. As with HD, providing content to these screens is likely to be commercially viable when more than 3% of homes have an Ultra HD TV, which will happen in around 2017 in the US and between 2018 and 2021 in most other regions. By 2025 almost half of the TVs shipped globally will be Ultra HD TVs.
“Pay TV operators will be shipping HEVC set-top boxes that will be needed for Ultra HD reception, but are also a crucial part of multiscreen and online video strategies as well. This will mean that Ultra HD STBs actually go into the market faster than their HD predecessors. This will allow many operators the chance to actively switch off their older MPEG-2 boxes and free up transmission space for more HD and Ultra HD channels.”
By 2018 the report suggests that many of the largest operators in the world will find it cost effective to make this kind of switch providing the opportunity for operators to use HD TV as a basic content package and Ultra HD as the premium technology tier.
By Adrian Pennington