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
Networks of the future will rely on "white box" switches and servers rather than proprietary hardware and that's going to alter the shape of the communications industry. Who says so? John Chambers.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Intros Smart Device for eLTE

3|30|15   |   05:25   |   (0) comments


Huawei has developed a secure, location-aware multimedia smartphone for its eLTE trunked radio solution, says Huawei's Norman Frisch.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Win Video, Win All

3|30|15   |   06:44   |   (0) comments


Video is going to be the next main source of revenue for operators. Operators have big opportunities and advantages to monetize video services. Globally, Huawei has helped more than 70 operators achieve over 30 million video subscribers. Watch this video for more.
LRTV Custom TV
The Benefits of HyperScale Clouds for NFV

3|27|15   |   01:50   |   (0) comments


Hyperscale cloud has been developed by the Internet giants to support the creation and delivery of software-based services at blistering speeds, and at the lowest possible cost. The original ETSI NFV vision was to adopt hyperscale cloud architecture and practices. This vision has become somewhat obscured along the way, due to misunderstandings about the hyperscale ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
eLTE Rapid Meets the Need for Speed

3|26|15   |   4:45   |   (0) comments


Designed especially for emergency and dedicated ad hoc local mobile communications coverage, Huawei's eLTE Rapid solution can deliver trunked voice, video and data coverage for multiple users over a 6km range and be set up in just 15 minutes, explains Huawei's Norman Frisch.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
On Videos: Challenges & Opportunities

3|26|15   |   5:56   |   (0) comments


Most everything is now connected. And along with 4K and 4G technologies, everyone could be creating and broadcasting video contents. Users are expecting better video experience with any screen, anywhere and anytime. Operators will meet new challenges, but also see some big opportunities.
LRTV Custom TV
JDSU: Delivering Dynamic Networks for a Personalized Experience

3|26|15   |   5:59   |   (0) comments


Light Reading speaks to JDSU at Mobile World Congress 2015 about new solutions in the areas of HetNets, VoLTE, backhaul, virtualization, big data analytics, and real-time intelligence.
LRTV Custom TV
Smarter Service Chaining & New Ways to Benefit From Qosmos Technology

3|25|15   |   03:11   |   (0) comments


David Le Goff, director of strategic and product marketing at Qosmos, explains how the company has added application awareness to subscriber information to make service chaining more efficient and reduce costs for networking and infrastructure. In addition, Qosmos technology, which has been delivered as C libraries, is now also available as a virtual machine, ...
Between the CEOs
Qosmos CEO: The Changing Face of DPI

3|24|15   |   13:53   |   (0) comments


LR CEO and Founder Steve Saunders sits down with the head of Qosmos to talk about the changing state of the art in deep packet inspection technology, including its role in SDN and NFV architectures. Also, how the comms market is becoming more like the automotive industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
FC Schalke Scores With Its Agile Stadium

3|24|15   |   6:23   |   (0) comments


Top German soccer club FC Schalke 04 has deployed a new, agile WiFi network from Huawei in its Veltins-Arena stadium and is reaping the benefits in terms of customer satisfaction and business opportunities, explains marketing chief Alexander Jobst.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Insights on Mobile Video

3|24|15   |   7:51   |   (0) comments


More people than ever are now watching videos on smartphones. Seventy percent of mobile traffic will be video traffic until 2018. In this video, Huawei's exports give their insights on mobile video in terms of business model, network planning and 4G network construction.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Industry 4.0

3|24|15   |   02:26   |   (9) comments


Are you ready for the fourth industrial revolution? It's a big deal for influential operators such as Deutsche Telekom.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Getting Connected With eLTE

3|23|15   |   06:04   |   (0) comments


Trunked radio communications have entered the 4G LTE world, and with Huawei's eLTE solution, can now deliver a full range of data and video services as well as push-to-talk voice, explains Huawei's Norman Frisch.
Upcoming Live Events
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 5, 2015, Hyatt McCormick Place, Chicago, IL
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
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
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
AT&T Woos SMBs With Small-Scale WiFi
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/26/2015
Just Don't Say IBM Is 'Relaunching' Networking Business
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 3/26/2015
TV Everywhere Nears Mainstream Adoption
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 3/27/2015
Carriers Are Bright Spot in BlackBerry Q4
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/27/2015
Comcast Says TWC Deal Will Close Later
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 3/26/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
LR CEO and Founder Steve Saunders sits down with the head of Qosmos to talk about the changing state of the art in deep packet inspection technology, including its role in SDN and NFV architectures.
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.