At this point, we all know the score. Both DIRECTV and DISH are 100% ready for live 4K broadcasts, but there just aren’t any. DIRECTV’s HR54 and DISH’s Hopper 3 both boast the ability to receive 4K broadcasts, and DIRECTV launched its DIRECTV15 satellite with the specific hope of supporting tons and tons of live 4K. The problem is, as they say, “there just ain’t none.”
A generation ago, HDTV was in a similar situation. A few brave companies, led by media pioneer Mark Cuban, started HD channels and slowly built up a stable of HD programs. It took years before it caught on, but then as the government began to mandate digital tuners in televisions, HD got a boost and by 2007,it seemed like channels were launching HD versions every week. DIRECTV went from 9 national HD channels to over 100 in about a year, and then proceeded to blanket the country with HD local coverage.
The problem is that this time, the government is sitting on the sidelines. Despite prodding from industry groups and the possible finalization of a broadcast technology standard for 4K, the FCC has not and probably will not require 4K tuners in new TVs. That means there’s no reason to think that 4K over-the-air will ever happen, and without that, we’re much more likely to see 4K stay in the streaming world where it’s already started to take root.
But hey, let’s be optimistic for a moment. I mean, someone, some channel, is going to announce a live 4K pay-TV channel, right? I mean, sooner or later it’s going to happen, right? It seems like you’d really expect someone to stick his or her neck out and do it. My bet would be the channels associated with movie studios will be first, since 4K already has a strong foothold in cinema so at least there’s some content there. 4K sports sound like they would be fabulous and the fact is that major networks are already capturing sporting events in 4K. They’re just sampled down to HD (a phrase that sounds somehow wrong) for broadcast.
What do you think, oh Solid Signal Blog faithful? Who will be the first intrepid company to put live 4K out there. Will you be ready for it? Will it be ready for you? Only time will tell.