& cplSiteName &

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        ADD A COMMENT
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.  
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
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.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
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. 
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, September 28, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit 101
Will Barkis, Senior Technology Analyst, Orange
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Friday, September 30, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & the Great Migration
Robert Howald, Vice President, Network Architecture, Comcast
Wednesday, October 5, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & Smart Cities
Joe Kochan, COO & Co-Founder, US Ignite
Friday, October 7, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & DOCSIS 3.1
Ty Pearman, Director, Access Architecture, Comcast
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T: Re-usable Functions Next NFV Key

9|27|16   |   06:03   |   (0) comments


The next generation of NFV has to break functions down into re-usable software chunks, making everything much more cloud-like.
LRTV Interviews
Masergy on Security: Attackers Gaining Upper Hand

9|27|16   |   5:10   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver, Ray Watson, vice president of Global Technology at Masergy, says that because of the growth in virtualization, the threat landscape is shifting in favor of the attackers. As a result, service providers need to think beyond just defending the perimeter and take a more holistic approach to security.
LRTV Interviews
Verizon Takes Next Step on Biz Virtualization Journey

9|26|16   |   4:38   |   (1) comment


At September's NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver, Light Reading sat down with Victoria Lonker, director of Product and New Business Innovation at Verizon, to chat about where the carrier is with delivering virtualized services to business customers.
LRTV Interviews
Global Services: The $40B Face-Off

9|26|16   |   05:53   |   (1) comment


More service providers than ever before are battling it out to win a slice of what is now a $40 billion global communications services pie, explains Ovum Principal Analyst David Molony.
LRTV Documentaries
MEC Congress: The Key Takeaways

9|22|16   |   03:25   |   (3) comments


Three key takeaways from the Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) Congress in Munich, Germany.
Wagner’s Ring
Time to Shut Up About 'Dumb Pipes'

9|22|16   |     |   (12) comments


Service providers can't compete with OTT players. It just isn't in their DNA. Instead, service providers need to embrace what they're good at -- providing reliable, secure connectivity.
Wagner’s Ring
Keeping Your Tech Career Going After 50

9|21|16   |     |   (13) comments


How do you keep your career moving forward when you're past the half-century mark?
LRTV Interviews
Peering Into the Digital Future

9|20|16   |   04:25   |   (0) comments


Nick Thomas, practice leader of digital media at Ovum, talks about how digital transformation in the technology, media and telecom sectors will enable the development of a new range of applications and services for enterprises and consumers and how the upcoming Digital Futures event in London will examine ...
LRTV Custom TV
Napatech Tackles NFV's Major Challenge

9|7|16   |   08:42   |   (0) comments


One of the main challenges for network operators introducing NFV is to combine performance and flexibility in a cost-effective way, but there is a solution, explains Napatech's Dan Joe Barry.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Optical Innovation 2016

9|6|16   |     |   (0) comments


Highlights of the 2016 Huawei Optical Innovation forum.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Are You Ready for Huawei Connect 2016?

8|31|16   |     |   (0) comments


Join us for an exclusive sneak peak of Huawei Connect, an integrated conference for the global ICT ecosystem taking place in Shanghai.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: UXP's Gemini Waghmare

8|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Keeping Your Tech Career Going After 50
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 9/21/2016
Time to Shut Up About 'Dumb Pipes'
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 9/22/2016
Verizon CFO: Eat Our (Fixed) 5G Dust!
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/22/2016
WiCipedia: The Women Helping Women Edition
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 9/23/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Animals with Phones
There's Nothing Like Missing a Full Minute of Pokémon Go Click Here
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.