Analyst: UltraHD ecosystem to be ready in next five years

Joseph O'Halloran | 18-10-2013

2017 will be for 4KTV the equivalent of 2002 for HDTV in terms of having a viable ecosystem and infrastructure, new research from IHS Electronics & Media (IHS E&M) is predicting.

In its investigation of the roll-out of UltraHD services, the analyst suggests a 12-year roadmap of how channels, production and consumer devices will pave the way for 4KTV content in the home.

Even though it makes the prediction that the UltraHD ecosystem will be technically ready by 2017, IHS E&M suggests that within ten years there will be enough homes, content and distribution for commercial mass market launch of such services, equivalent to 2006 for HDTV. It adds that the first commercial UltraHD channels will be launched in 2016-2018 with major sporting events such as the forthcoming World Cup and Olympic Games in Brazil. In addition to sport, IHS E&M expects the other primary drivers behind additional channels to be higher-tier drama, documentary and films.

The result of this says, IHS E&M, is that by 2020 there will be 140 million TV households with at least one UltraHD TV and over 50 million UltraHD set-top boxes installed capable of showing over 200 compatible channels, rising to over 1,000 by 2025, mostly distributed by satellite.

Looking as to how UltraHD will play out, IHS E&M consumer & video technology research director Tom Morrod said: “In the coming five years, pay-TV operators will start to switch off their MPEG-2 transmissions to accommodate more HD and UltraHD channels. Homes in advanced markets will also start to reach the threshold of mass market technology, when around 3% of households have a UltraHD set. UltraHD as a major advantage over HD during launch: this is due to some of the technologies needed to make UltraHD cost-effective, and in particular the next generation compression codec HEVC.

"Pay-TV operators will be shipping next-generation HEVC set-top boxes that will be needed for UltraHD reception, but are also a crucial part of multiscreen and online video strategies as well. This ‘Trojan Horse’ effect will mean that UltraHD set-top boxes actually go into the market faster than their HD predecessors.”