In an interview with BroadcastPro ME, Peter Ostapiuk, Vice President of Media Product Management at Intelsat, reveals the direction 4K is expected to take in the near future What, according to you, will be the route for 4K adoption? Will it start with linear TV and move to OTT, or the other way round? In […]
In an interview with BroadcastPro ME, Peter Ostapiuk, Vice President of Media Product Management at Intelsat, reveals the direction 4K is expected to take in the near future
What, according to you, will be the route for 4K adoption? Will it start with linear TV and move to OTT, or the other way round?
In our view, OTT providers will most likely be the first to offer 4K UHDTV services. Unlike a linear channel, OTT services can be started with a small library of content. Delivery of 4K UHDTV content via OTT will entice early 4K UHDTV adopters, drive sales of 4K UHDTV sets and support the business case for media companies to launch full-time 4K UHDTV channels. Ultimately, given the bandwidth constraints of delivering 4K UHDTV over OTT, we believe OTT services will be complementary to full-time 4K UHDTV channel distribution via satellite and cable systems.
Our view is further supported by our global survey, which showed that 60% of respondents believe video on demand will be the first business model to gain momentum, almost double the 34% stating that linear channels will be the first to do so.
What is the main difference between 4K on second screen and linear TV?
Unlike linear TV, we dont anticipate 4K UHDTV viewing on tablets and PCs to become mainstream, given the viewing habits required to truly experience the 4K UHDTV immersive experience.
4K UHDTV is best viewed on a larger TV set experts recommend 60 inches or larger in size. This is because on a smaller screen the pixels become so small that the viewer will need to get very close to the screen to be able to enjoy the higher resolution of 4K UHDTV.
The optimal viewing distance for a 4K UHDTV image is 1.5 times the height of the screen for a 10-inch tablet, thats only 7.5 inches away from the screen. While viewing 4K UHDTV on a second screen is possible, it isnt likely that the consumer is going to keep the screen right in front of their faces (7.5 inches) for an entire programme or movie, and from a more typical viewing distance for a tablet like 15-20 inches, the 4K UHDTV image is not going to look much different from an HD image.
The industry standard for a ‘true’ 4K UHDTV viewing experience is becoming 10 bit colour depth and 60 frames per second, which requires considerably more processing power than HD. We dont foresee processing power designed to support 4K UHDTV to be available in smaller second screen devices for a while. It will also cost more to manufacture screens with 4K resolution. This is likely to drive the cost of the second screen up considerably, making it unlikely that a regular consumer will invest in such a device, especially when the benefits are limited by the size of the screen and the optimal viewing distance for 4K UHDTV.
What are the challenges of UHDTV? Is the transmission infrastructure ready for it yet?
Intelsat has conducted a number of live true 4K UHDTV, end-to-end video transmissions over satellite. These transmissions demonstrate that the satellite ecosystem is ready to deliver 4K UHDTV content when it becomes more widely available.
However, in terms of the broadcast infrastructure, there are a few elements that still need to be further developed to ensure the successful acceleration and adoption of 4K UHDTV.
It still remains king. Filming in 4K UHDTV is still in the nascent stages, and it will take time to develop enough content to launch full-time linear 4K UHDTV channels.
In order to effectively transport uncompressed 4K UHDTV in the production stage, many broadcasters will need to upgrade their internal networks to all IP capable in order to handle it.
The rollout of High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), or H.265 standard, is critical to lowering distribution costs and halving the bit rates necessary to deliver video. Although HEVC encoders today can support 4K UHDTV transmission, it is only in the lower frame rate of 30p rather than 60p. Second, low-cost, high-performance, broadcast-quality set-top-box chips are needed to support 4K UHDTV processing power requirements, which are 80 times greater than HD. Only a handful of manufacturers offer production units today, and costs are still high.
Engaging Mainstream Viewers:
Consumers still need to understand how to best utilise the technology to truly experience and appreciate 4K UHDTVs immersive experience. For example, the recommended viewing distance is 1.5 times the height of the screen. At this distance, the screen occupies 60 degrees of a consumers field of view. Additionally, a 4K UHDTV that is 60-plus inches is recommended for optimal viewing. While the close-up viewing requirements challenge consumers current viewing habits, it is important that consumers view 4K UHDTV content correctly in order to experience the difference between a 4K UHDTV and a regular HD image.
Where are the gaps in 4K transmission? How will the high costs be met?
We believe that a 4K UHDTV channel is expected to end up in the 10-20 mbps range per channel, but that is subject to the development of HEVC technology. By combining HEVC with DVB-S2X modulation, we expect satellite capacity for 4K UHDTV transmissions to remain affordable for programmers.
In addition to advancements in HEVC technology, there are also elements of the broadcast infrastructure that still need to be further developed to ensure the successful acceleration and adoption of 4K UHDTV. To effectively transport uncompressed 4K UHDTV in the production stage, many broadcasters will need to upgrade their internal networks to all IP.
Whats in store for broadcasters once the 4K model takes off?
When compared to the transition period from SD to HD, media executives are facing increasing challenges surrounding the rapid evolution of technologies and multiple distribution outlets. Industry leaders are grappling with linear versus VOD and OTT versus Pay-TV, and that really impacts the type of economic models that they build. This is completely different from the migration from SD to HD, as broadcasters now need to develop business models based on the distribution paths that are best suited to drive rapid adoption and, more importantly, a return on their investment for 4K UHDTV.
Which regions do you think will be the first to use 4K, and when are they likely to start?
Not surprisingly, respondents to our survey of leading media executives worldwide identified the Asia-Pacific region as the first to adopt 4K UHDTV (47%), followed by North America (34%) and Western Europe (16%).
The Asia-Pacific region is leading 4K UHDTV adoption; Japan already has a 4K UHDTV test channel on the air, and two 4K UHDTV channels are slated to launch on March 1. Japan is also currently focused on the rollout of 8K, particularly for the 2020 Olympics.
Other than Japan and maybe one or two other countries, from our point of view, the rest of the world is focused on accelerating the adoption timeline of 4K UHDTV for 2016, when the first visible uptake for 4K UHDTV is expected, with a few linear channels appearing globally.
How do you see the future of 4K in the Middle East? Who do you see as some of the first users of this technology?
According to NSRs July 2014 Global Satellite Capacity Supply & Demand report, 4K UHDTV is expected to emerge in the Middle East and North Africa in 2017. The report cites a fairly weak DTH market, as well as DTH platforms with government involvement such as Al Jazeera Media Network, as drivers for 4K UHDTV adoption. NSR predicts there will be roughly 35 4K UHDTV channels in the Middle East and North Africa via DTH by 2023, with Ku-band supplementing around 15 4K UHDTV channels and C-band distributing just a few 4K UHDTV channels.
The first Middle East programmers to use 4K UHDTV are likely to be distributors of movies or broadcasters of premier sporting events who seek to differentiate themselves and set a first mover advantage for their companies. Intelsats survey of leading media executives worldwide indicated that 95% of respondents believe those two content types will lead in 4K UHDTV adoption, with general programming and news trailing by a wide margin.