4K HD is anticipated as being the next major development in the TV market, though the challenge to become the first in the UK region to publicly broadcast the format is one that many believe will narrow down to just two – national public service broadcaster BBC, and wealthy satellite TV providers Sky.
For the time being, it appears as though the BBC have conceded defeat on the matter, claiming that they have not yet directed enough focus into the technology, instead looking at ways to improve on their existing HD offerings.
Speaking at the Digital TV World Summit in London (England) earlier this week, BBC executive Mark Harrison claims that Sky will implement a 4KHD strategy faster than his organisation can manage, and that while the BBC are looking ‘really closely’ along with Sky, actual roll-out of the method by the former is still ‘a way off’.
Harrison stated: “I’m sure that Sky will get there first in some – I don’t mean this in a pejorative way, but – attention grabbing 4K moment. That’s kind of their business model and good luck to them. The BBC, to some degree, is constrained by our universality. We have to keep thinking about serving everybody rather than serving a niche or specialist audience that might have access to that kind of product. It doesn’t necessarily upset us to see them [Sky] go first.”
He added of internal support for what will be an effective development when it occurs, and of the key to market progression: “Their obsession [BBC R&D staff] is around frame rates, is around dynamic range, it’s around colour, it’s around codecs and it’s around trying to make sure that the pictures that we give to all our license fee payers, whatever they are watching just look better. I think it’s important that the manufacturing industry and researchers from broadcasting can start to get together around this, and that’s because television is a discipline, it’s not a device. If there’s one group of people who really, really love 4K, it’s programme makers.”
With Sky believed to be at least one key step ahead in the 4K self-development movement (having already privately broadcast trial content in Ultra HD), will the favourites in this race live manage to fulfil predictions, and will they be able to deliver content to subscribers befitting of the status?