Last month’s CES 2019 in Las Vegas, USA, marked the birth of the 8K Association (8KA), an organisation that aims to promote 8K TVs and 8K content to consumers and professionals. The association’s founding members include AU Optronics, Hisense, Panasonic, Samsung Electronics, and TCL Electronics. APB speaks with Chris Chinnock, executive director of the 8KA, on the association’s plans in nurturing a widespread viewing of 8K content.
The formation of the 8K Association (8KA) seems to reinforce a growing interest in 8K. From an audience perspective, what is the level of demand that you are currently seeing for 8K content?
Chris Chinnock: I’d say very little because currently only Japan is broadcasting 8K content on a regular basis. 8K TVs are expensive, and there is little consumer awareness of 8K outside Japan.
This is a key reason why we think 8KA is needed to be formed. Let’s start co-ordinating education for professionals and consumers as we enter into the 8K era.
From a broadcast perspective, 8K presents many challenges, including the complexity and cost of putting together an end-to-end 8K ecosystem, in addition to the extensive bandwidth requirements. How can the 8KA, as a grouping, address these issues?
Chinnock: What you say is true — we recognise that and we will be working closely with the production ecosystem to encourage the development of more equipment, which in turn will lower prices and the production of more 8K content to gain experience, and to understand the benefits and trade-offs.
The exact same argument was made regarding 4K/Ultra HD (UHD) production in the 2012/2013 time frame, and these issues have been overcome by many in the film, movie and over-the-top (OTT) segments, so we expect 8K to follow a similar trajectory.
All the technology pieces are moving forward together to enable this to happen.
One objective of the 8KA is to encourage service providers, especially OTT, to develop 8K offerings. Why is OTT particularly pointed out? Do you foresee a widespread viewing of 8K to take place over OTT, despite the fact that NHK has already started 8K satellite broadcasting in December last year?
Chinnock: 4K/UHD was able to become a main stream option via satellite broadcasting and OTT providers. We will certainly engage with the existing satellite providers to understand their thinking on 8K, but we think OTT offers an easier path to 8K adoption.
For instance, AT&T (the owner of DirecTV service) has stated that it has launched its last satellite, and is moving to IP-delivered services. I am not sure if this is the trend worldwide, but it is a strong statement here in the US.