Amazon Builds Studio Momentum for HDR

Following Netflix's lead, Amazon has announced that it will take the leap into High-Dynamic Range (HDR) video later this year. The technology push will start with the company's original programming, and Amazon will offer HDR shows initially in the US, UK and Germany.

HDR video has been on the television industry agenda for years, but it took a step into the media spotlight in 2014 with new demonstrations of the technology from Dolby Laboratories. Promising brighter, more vivid imagery, HDR increases luminance roughly tenfold while also ensuring pictures don't wash out or lose detail. And unlike 4K video, HDR translates well even on smaller displays. (See HDR: The Next Big Video Thing .)

For TV manufacturers, HDR is held out as "the next big thing" likely to drive consumers in the TV upgrade cycle. Perhaps more importantly, however, programmers are lining up behind HDR to make sure content is available when viewers start buying those TV sets.

"4K Ultra HD picture resolution was just the beginning -- we're excited that Prime members will soon be able to view movies and TV shows including Amazon Originals in HDR quality," said Amazon Vice President of Digital Video Michael Paull in a statement. "HDR is the natural next step in our commitment to premium entertainment, and we can't wait for customers to have even more choice in how they watch their favorite titles on Amazon Prime Instant Video."

Want to know more about pay-TV subscriber trends? Check out our dedicated video services content channel here on Light Reading.

So far, Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) are the only big names in content production putting their weight behind HDR programming, but that's sure to change as momentum builds across the television ecosystem. Among content providers, HBO and ESPN are typically early technology adopters, and it would make sense for one or both of them to jump on the HDR bandwagon as the marketing rhetoric heats up.

In the short term, HDR is sure to be the talk of this week's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show. Media, technology and service provider companies descended on Las Vegas over the weekend, and the NAB exhibit floor opens today.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

kq4ym 4/15/2015 | 6:12:18 PM
Re: better than 3D TV, but... I've always been intriqued by 3D and actually wish it would take hold. Granted there's not a lot of programming out there that makes a compelling case for buying the equipment to view it properly. But if HDR can inexpensively be offer to consumers I'd guess it might be a better choice than the expense of alternative super high def systems.
KBode 4/15/2015 | 9:16:04 AM
Re: better than 3D TV, but... I've never run an energy meter test on it, but yes they're a bit more power hungry. I find fine text for things like gaming is also a bit muddy. I'm largely interested in bumping to a more power efficient 65" from the 55", and if I'm going to do it -- I want to make sure it's at least a bit future proof since I tend to keep TVs for ten years or so (unless they die, of course).
mhhf1ve 4/14/2015 | 12:18:25 PM
Re: better than 3D TV, but... A plasma TV still? Does that device double as a space heater? Can't beat its brightness and viewing angles, but I've heard plasma TVs suck up a lot of energy -- and most manufacturers have stopped making them because LCDs/LEDs have gotten better and cheaper. I don't think I really care that much about the resolution of my tv beyond HD. Is there really that much more detail and facial blemishes that I really want to see?
KBode 4/14/2015 | 8:10:59 AM
Re: better than 3D TV, but... From what I read you really can't notice much of a different sitting at 6-9 feet from a 50" set. I currently have a 720P Plasma and may upgrade once prices settle down a bit. HDR is supposed to be more notable of an improvement. I'll probably make the  jump sometime in 2016.
mhhf1ve 4/13/2015 | 7:50:38 PM
better than 3D TV, but... I'm glad the 3D TV sets didn't catch on... but 4K video just isn't that attractive to me, either. I'm just hoping that video services continue to offer "standard definition" video clips for MUCH cheaper than HD and 4K versions of the same content. 

When will the resolution escalation stop? At what point does the human eye not even perceive a difference in image quality? 
KBode 4/13/2015 | 1:54:05 PM
4K.... I have the feeling there's going to be a lot of grumpy 4K ecosystem buyers who buy a device that can't adhere to the latest standards. For example a receiver that claims it's 4K but can't actually transmit the full 18 gbps for true HDMI 2.0, or lacks HDCP 2.2 copy protection. Similarly I'm sure a lot of 4K sets have been sold that won't be able to offer HDR, though for many it will be a software upgrade.
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