Report: Operators, content owners all in with 4K/UHD

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of video service providers and three-quarters (73%) of content producers believe that consumers will pay 10% to 30% more for access to 4K/UHD content.

The survey, from Irdeto and SNL Kagan, A Clearer Picture of Growth: 2016 Global 4K UHD Industry Survey, also found that video service providers and content producers were nearly unanimous (96%) in their belief that operators – of both pay-TV and over-the-top services — and consumers will adopt 4K UHD TV by 2020.

For pay-TV operators, UHD content is seen as a service differentiator and as a potential churn reducer, especially for Millennial subscribers, with 57% saying 4K was a key business driver that would help them maintain customers. That service differentiation may be short lived, as the survey found 88% of respondents plan to launch UHD content by 2020 and 78% said that, in anticipation of consumer uptake, they’ll launch UHD content by 2018.

Sports is expected to e  major contributor to UHD content and a major draw. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of video service providers and content producers expect live sports to be the most popular 4K UHD content among consumers. And, 59% ranked early release movies as the highest 4K content consumption driver.

Despite the growing adoption of mobile video – Ooyala’s Q1 2015 Global Video Index showed that 48% of all video starts were on mobile devices – 70% of survey respondents said they believe 4K TVs/Connected TVs will be the primary devices used for viewing 4K content.

But, UHD roll out in’t likely to be problem free. The survey found that 61% of those polled said they believed available bandwidth could be a problem.

And, of course, with the improved quality of the picture comes the increased potential for piracy using devices to record content directly from the screen.

Pay-TV operators particularly said Internet piracy detection services (53%), content protection (51%) and Internet piracy analytics (50%) would be most effective in protecting 4K UHD content.

Consumer electronics manufacturers are hoping 4K/UHD will be the magic bullet that helps screen sales – which have been in a slump for several years – rebound. The last great hope – 3D – turned out to be a flop and the industry needs UHD to lead a turnaround.

In the U.S., at least, there’s been a glimmer of hope as 4K shipments have been steadily growing. 2016 has been forecast to be a banner year with expectations shipments will increase 105% or more.

The Consumer Technology Association last week released its semi-annual forecast that predicted shipments in the U.S. to hit 15 million units, with revenue exceeding $12.9 billion.

Overall, the TV industry in the U.S. is expecting a 1% decline in unit sales for the year, although reveue is expected to climb 3% to $30 billion.

“This is a pivotal point in consumer technology history, as emerging tech categories – virtual reality, voice-controlled digital assistants, drones – push the entire industry forward,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA. “The value of these innovations goes far beyond entertainment– today’s technology is changing our lives for the better.”
Irdeto and SNL Kagan collected data from nearly 500 video service providers and content producers for the study.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn