Light Reading

DirecTV Preps for 4K

Alan Breznick
11/13/2013
50%
50%

Despite nagging concerns about the complexities of upgrading to 4K UltraHD video, DirecTV is gearing up to be the first pay TV provider to offer 4K in the US.

DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) president and CEO Mike White spelled out that intention during the company's third-quarter earnings call last week. Speaking to financial analysts, he said the satellite TV giant is preparing for the nationwide introduction of 4K video as soon as the technology appears to be eady for prime-time.

"We are working on it," White said. "We'll be ready."

Indeed, as Fierce Cable reported back in February, DirecTV has already filed for trademarks on a bunch of 4K brand names, including 4KN, 4KNET, and 4K Network. So it could use any of those names for a new 24-hour devoted to 4K video programming.

That could set up an interesting race to market with such leading cable operators as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), which has also been working on its technical capabilities for 4K and demonstrated UltraHD programming for its NBC Universal unit at the Cable Show in June. It also sets up an interesting match with such leading over-the-top (OTT) providers as Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), which has already launched 4K trials. (See: Netflix Launches 4K Video Trials.)

After getting burned with similar ambitions for a new full-time 3D network, however, DirecTV is moving ahead a bit more deliberately this time around, White said. DirecTV, which once had high hopes for its pioneering n3D network, scaled it back to a part-time channel last year and now doesn't even bother to promote it any more.

"After the experience with 3D, I think there's a level of 'protect your options,' because it's a very complex rollout that would be required," said White. He noted that consumers will need new TVs and new set-top boxes to receive 4K, while pay TV providers will need a new video compression scheme to deliver it. He also noted that "very, very few homes in America" now have a TV capable of playing 4K.

"Everybody is working on pieces of that, and I do think you'll see a little bit more of it next year," White said. But he doesn't believe that 4K will have "any kind of material impact" on the US TV landscape until 2015 or 2016.

DirecTV CFO Patrick Doyle said his company's new satellites under development haven't been designed specifically for 4K. But he asserted that they could handle UltraHD video if need be. "If 4K takes off, we're in a good position as far as capacity."

Although DirecTV made a run at Hulu LLC earlier this year, White all but ruled out another attempt to buy out a large, general, OTT video service. Instead, he said, the satellite TV provider may take aim at a more targeted over-the-top service. "We have some ideas but I'm not ready to discuss them." (See: Hulu Brings in Billion-Dollar Bids.)

DirecTV officials said they're more focused now on building up their broadband, video-on-demand, and pay-per-view businesses. Noting that the provider has "seen a significant uptick in use of our on-demand channels," White said DirecTV will launch more on-demand channels later this year.

Despite the heavy video subscriber losses that Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) reported for the third quarter, largely as a result of its retransmission-fee brawl with CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS), DirecTV did not see much gain from the fallout. While the company netted 139,000 new customers in the quarter, more than double the 67,000 that it gained a year earlier, White credited most of the increase to lower customer churn rates. (See: TW Cable Hemorrhages Subs.)

"It had a very modest effect on our gross adds, well less than 5 percent," said White, who eschewed special promotions aimed at TW Cable subs in New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles who lost their CBS programming for a month. "It was kind of the whipped cream on top of our gross adds."

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

(7)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
peppi134
50%
50%
peppi134,
User Rank: Light Beer
6/5/2014 | 1:52:20 PM
DTV UHD
I think it's crazy DTV is charging a premium for 6 HD 1080i channels, still have a ton of non hd channels and are preping for 4K??  How about getting the rest of your channels up to speed first.
OaklandVC
50%
50%
OaklandVC,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/12/2014 | 9:17:02 PM
4K is the next CE driver....
Nobody wanted 3D with the glasses and ok effects.  What people want is resolution and that will drive mass adoption.  The OEM's will quickly switch to 4K as soon as there's content avaiable.  Getting pixels to the end user is another story through, might be a opportunity for the over air broadcasters as they are the only ones actually broadcasting uncompressed 1080i.  

 

If you're still skeptical, see one.  If you've seen it in person that will end the argument....
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
11/13/2013 | 11:20:17 PM
Re: Still a Skeptic
yeah, I can't see how you get much value out of 4K on a little cell phone screen. You're going to need a goodsized TV set to really appreciate it. But I don't think you'll necessarily need a larger set than you have today. The difference is really striking and you don't need those goofy 3D glasses anymore, Sarah. Sell them off on eBay now while you still have a chance.  
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
11/13/2013 | 3:46:09 PM
Re: Still a Skeptic
Ah, well I was speaking to Broadcom about the potential for 4K on mobile devices, and they didn't think there was much because the screen was so small. The exec said you had to be relatively far away from the TV screen and it had to be large to take advantage of it, much like in a movie theatre where 4K is already taking off.
tb100
50%
50%
tb100,
User Rank: Moderator
11/13/2013 | 3:43:35 PM
Re: Still a Skeptic
You have it backwards. You want to sit closer to be able to better appreciate and enjoy the higher resolution. A small living room is ideal.

I've seen 4K TVs for sale for $1300. I remember back when flat screens first came out and the friends who like to brag about their equipement were paying up to $4000 for their TVs. You don't need glasses. Anyone visiting your house can sit down and enjoy it. I was impressed with a 4K demo I saw.

I think that there's a good future for 4K.
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
11/13/2013 | 3:07:50 PM
Re: Still a Skeptic
I'm less skeptical than I was with 3D (although I have a 3DTV with two pair of glasses I've never used...) How big does your TV need to be and how far back do you have to sit to make it worthwhile? I'm afraid my living room is too small to get the full benefit of it.
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
11/13/2013 | 2:53:27 PM
Still a Skeptic
I remain skeptical about the impact of 4K and even more skeptical about its value as a competitive advantage. 
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Flash Poll
From The Founder
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
Que Sera Sarah
Growth of the 5G Ecosystem

3|6|15   |   1:15   |   (1) comment


Use cases and industry collaborations dominated 5G discussions during Mobile World Congress 2015. For what the road to 5G means for operators and their partners, head to the Building America's 5G Ecosystem event in New York on April 14.
LRTV Custom TV
Sonus NaaS IQ Real-Time Demo

3|6|15   |   4:03   |   (0) comments


Compass Networks Chairman and CEO Matt Bross and Ray Dolin, CEO of Sonus Networks, demonstrate their Sonus IQ SDN solution using a live video conference connection.
LRTV Custom TV
LRTV Talks Carrier WiFi & WiFi Calling With Aptilo Networks

3|6|15   |   4:53   |   (0) comments


We stopped by Aptilo Networks, a market leader in WiFi service management and offloading, to discuss the new possibilities with next-generation WiFi calling and why WiFi should be a natural part of any operator strategy.
LRTV Interviews
NGMN Chairman Outlines His 5G Vision

3|6|15   |   5:10   |   (1) comment


Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, chairman of the NGMN Alliance and Deutsche Telekom CTO, shares his thoughts on the challenges, opportunities and costs of 5G.
LRTV Interviews
In the Cloud With Telecom Italia

3|5|15   |   7:10   |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders sits down with Telecom Italia's Simone Battiferri at Mobile World Congress to discuss virtualization, agility and the economic advantages of the cloud.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
New Ways of Working

3|5|15   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Hong Kong Telecom's Michael Yue explains how the transformation in its business has changed its customer relationships.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bridging the Digital Gap

3|5|15   |   4:03   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Boingo's Dr. Derek Peterson explains how ICT can help telcos bring the physical and virtual worlds closer together.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Making the Internet of Things Affordable

3|5|15   |   2:42   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Telefonica's Dr. Mike Short explains how the Internet of Things demands a new low-cost approach to connectivity from telcos.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Evolution, Not Revolution

3|5|15   |   2:00   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan explains why telcos can't be too hasty in their efforts to transform themselves.
LRTV Custom TV
Management & Orchestration Enablement Strategies Required for NFV Commercial Success

3|5|15   |   6:22   |   (0) comments


NFV commercial success rests on successful service orchestration strategies which can span heterogeneous physical, virtual, legacy and next-gen networks. Network data and security integrity are additional key aspects. Nakina provides a suite of orchestratable network integrity applications built on an open, scalable MANO enablement platform.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Power of Five Convergences in OceanStor OS

3|4|15   |   6:24   |   (0) comments


OceanStor OS is Huawei's brand-new storage operating system. While inheriting the consistent high stability, reliability and performance from the company's previous storage products, OceanStor OS abounds in new converged storage features. Specifically, the new storage operating system achieves "five convergences" to lift storage convergence to a higher level.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
4K Brings Extreme Video Experience

3|4|15   |   8:10   |   (0) comments


4K video is a hot topic in the video industry. It will certainly bring an extreme video experience to end users. At the same time, however, it will also pose a big challenge to operators. Check out this Huawei 4K experts' discussion about how operators can achieve success in 4K video service.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Internet Pioneers Decry Title II Rules
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/2/2015
Wheeler: We'll Enforce Title II 'Case-By-Case'
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/3/2015
New CenturyLink CTO in Major Overhaul
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/4/2015
Alibaba 'Planting a Flag' in US Cloud Market
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 3/4/2015
Surveillance Law Drives SDN Test From New Zealand – Reports
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 2/27/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Chattanooga’s EPB publicly owned utility comms company has become a poster child for how to enable a local economy using next-gen networking technology. Steve Saunders, Founder of Light Reading, sits down with Harold DePriest, president and CEO of EPB, to learn how EPB is bringing big time tech to small town America.
Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks transformation and virtualization – including Light Reading's independent testing of the vendor's virtualization solutions – with Cisco CEO John Chambers at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.
G'day! And welcome to an entirely new feature on Light Reading -- our weekly "CEO-to-CEO" interview.