Following the recent collaborations with Bayerischer Rundfunk, the affiliate of German public broadcaster ARD serving federal state Bavaria, German technology research institute IRT and Hessischer Rundfunk, ARD’s affiliate serving Hessen, test runs are planned with further partners to gain practical experiences with the production and distribution of Ultra HD content, said Fritz.
Corresponding collaborations have previously been set up with France Télévisions and RAI. The programmes are screened on Eutelsat’s Ultra HD showcase channel 4K1 on Hot Bird (13° East).
Hot Bird is also the home of 4K FunBox UHD from SPI International, the first regular Ultra HD channel broadcast on a Eutelsat satellite. The channel is distributed to platform operators this way. As it is a pay-TV service, the signal will be encrypted soon.
Ultra HD could also act as a door opener for Eutelsat to the German DTH market which is currently almost completely in the hands of competitor Astra. Ultra HD offers the chance to gain stronger presence among satellite households in Germany, affirmed Fritz.
Ultra HD content is currently only offered in Germany by video-on-demand (VOD) providers Netflix and Amazon. The reason for the new format to be initially introduced by streaming video platforms is that users already have the necessary technical infrastructure with PCs and laptops, explained Fritz.
A pay-TV operator wanting to launch an Ultra HD channel, however, has to establish the necessary reception equipment first, for example through the replacement of subscribers’ set-top-boxes with Ultra HD receivers, said Fritz. He is convinced that, as soon as Ultra HD usage figures develop from the niche into the mass market, conventional broadcast infrastructures cable, satellite and broadband networks will become the first choice again to serve a large audience.