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."
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