Sony Pictures plans April 4 launch for ‘Ultra’ 4K streaming service

Got a hankering for some 4K/UHD video?

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) said it plans to launch its their new 4K streaming service —Ultra — on April 4. The catch? The content will only be available, initially, on Sony 4K Ultra HD TVs with Android TV, and… movies will cost $30 each.

Plans for the 4K digital service were announced originally at CES in January.

“Consumers are rapidly upgrading their living rooms to 4K, and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s new ULTRA streaming service will provide a premium viewing experience to satisfy growing demand for 4K movies and television shows,” said Jake Winett, VP, Consumer Services & Advanced Platforms at SPHE. “ULTRA takes advantage of the latest industry innovations – 4K resolution, high dynamic range, a wider color spectrum, digital movie extras, and UltraViolet interoperability – so viewers get the most out of their televisions and their movie collections.”

Ultra will offer a range of movies for purchase and playback in 4K Ultra HD, with many including High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Digital Extras.

Films available on Ultra will include new releases like ConcussionThe Night Before and The Walk, and library titles such as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Ghostbusters.

Customers who purchase eligible Sony 4K Ultra HD televisions with ULTRA this summer will receive four complimentary movies when they sign up for the service.

The new service will be tied into UltraViolet, the oft-maligned and underutilized digital locker most studios are a part of. So, consumers will be able to link their Ultra profiles to existing UltraViolet libraries, and access other content from Sony Pictures.

Sony’s also offering consumers the chance to upgrade HD titles to 4K, at a discounted price.

There has been a fair amount of fanfare about 4K/UHD of late (see this story), but pay-TV operators are currently more interested in HDR, which allows them to offer a significantly better viewing experience to a wider swath of their customers – without breaking the bandwidth bank.

That could change, of course, if consumers show significant desire for 4K technology (we all remember the dud that was 3D).

At the moment, the hurdles are still pretty significant: there’s a lack of content and consumers haven’t been rushing to upgrade their TVs to UHD.

But, 4K will come… just don’t start holding your breath quite yet.

Stay tuned.

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