Will DIRECTV add 8K programming?

I have to admit I was surprised when a customer asked me this question recently. But, the more I thought about it I had to say, it’s not a bad thing to ask. Let’s delve deep into the possibility, shall we?

The technical aspect

Of course, in order for there to be 8K programming you would need something to watch it on and something to watch it with. There are 8K TVs out there in the market. Not many of them, but they are there. You would need an 8K DIRECTV receiver or client. A receiver would be easier of course since you wouldn’t have to rebuild the entire Genie system to do it.

The good news here is that there’s plenty of satellite bandwidth and I think that you could go another 10 years even with some 8K content and it wouldn’t be a problem.

I’m inclined to think that the SWM infrastructure that exists could handle 8K in some way. I think they would have to go back to the idea of having multiple tuners in use, which is something that was discussed early in the mix for 4K. (It ended up being unnecessary.) But you could, for example, use four tuners, all bonded together, for an 8K picture and since the total capacity of a SWM line is 13 tuners that would still give you the ability to use as much HD or 4K as a Genie could put out.

The issue would be once you get to recording and potentially a server/client setup like Genie. It’s not clear whether or not today’s Genie technology could record and serve an 8K picture. It might take faster hardware and a different hard drive. I’m just not sure.

Because of the requirements of sending an 8K picture over a cable, you would probably need a system that was 100% MoCA 2.0. Current Genie hardware (Genie 2 and C61) are compatible with MoCA 2.0 but the whole system steps down to MoCA 1.1 if any older hardware is in the mix.

The content aspect

Here’s the real problem. I know I’ve said this a lot over the years but there simply isn’t any content. There isn’t any live 4K content other than what DIRECTV puts out on their channels. As far as 8K content, the only stuff I’ve seen are a few YouTube videos.

Will there ever be live 8K content? Well of course we would first have to see a lot of live 4K content. That seems to be moving very slowly. A possible upgrade to the broadcast TV standards would certainly help. NextGen TV, also known as ATSC 3.0, would allow 4K over-the-air broadcasts and that might make a lot more live content available. Unfortunately it could be another five years or more before that new standard is the law of the land.

I would be very surprised to see any amount of live 8K content out there, possibly ever, possibly not for another decade. I am pretty sure DIRECTV could be ready for it, I’m just not sure it’s going to happen. People are less interested in the kind of super-sized screens it takes to enjoy 8K and I just don’t see that changing.

Wrapping up

Yes, I think that 8K is very possible. In the end I don’t see it really happening. I dare the people at DIRECTV to prove me wrong!


About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.