Disney/ABC cool on 4K
By Chris Forrester
Disney/ABC Television Group, while being totally supportive of 4K shooting and production for its own content, is less keen on 4K/Ultra-HD transmission.
A high-profile broadcasters’ panel at the Satellite 2014 show in Washington DC, heard tepid enthusiasm from two speakers as far as Ultra-HD is concerned. Martin Breidsprecher, CEO of TV Azteca’s Azteca America operation, said he did not see Ultra-HD coming to Mexico terrestrially for five-to-seven years, “and perhaps even longer”. He explained that Mexico was only just embracing HDTV, and the conversion from analogue to digital TV was taking longer – and was more challenging – than expected.
Vince Roberts, EVP/Global Operations & CTO at Disney/ABC Television Group, was also sceptical, saying he did not see 8K taking hold in the US in any sort of time frame. “We have only just converted some of our channels to HD here. The roll-out of UHD-1 or UHD-2 is going to take some time. The way we see it moving is pretty much the way Netflix is going. Cable operators with adequate bandwidth will offer the first iteration [of 4K]. For us to even contemplate a whole channel in 4K… is [difficult], there simply are not enough eyeballs out there to make a business case. Now if a cable or DTH satellite operator offered us a [decent] per month subscription then it might be a different argument.”
Roberts stressed Disney’s library was ready, and top-rated shows such as Criminal Minds were already coming out of ABC Studios in 4K. “We are building that archive. And we don’t feel that we as broadcasters should be subsidising the [display and Consumer Electronics] industry so that they can sell more sets.”