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Why is there so little 4k TV content?

wayner92
I'm a reliable contributor

Rogers has been a leader in 4K and have broadcast all Blue Jays home games in HD since 2017.  That is a pretty long time ago.  There is also a TSN 4K channel and we get lots of Leafs and Raptors games in 4K.  But beyond that 4K content seems kind of stalled.

Why haven't all channels moved to 4K by now?  Services like Netflix have a lot of their content in 4K.  I believe that some of the Masters golf tournament is done in 4K, do we get any of that on TSN4K?

Why haven't the US networks gone to 4K?  Or the specialty networks?  I believe that ATSC 3.0 has 4K as a resolution.

I am old enough to remember the transition from SD to HD in the early 2000s and that happened much quicker than today since we are more than 7 years into 4K cable channels being introduced but there are so few 4K channels.

Is it because people don't see the marginal benefit to 4K?  Certainly there are a lot of 4K TVs out there - for at least 5 years pretty much all larger TVs are 4K.

 

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Re: Why is there so little 4k TV content?

57
Resident Expert
Resident Expert

I believe there are a several reasons.

 

1. The difference in picture quality between SD and HD was far more dramatic than HD and 4K.

2. Watching 4K programming, when compared with upconverted HD on a 4K TV, is again, not as much of a "wow" as HD was 20 years ago.  

3. Many people today don't watch "TV" sitting in front of a large TV. Many watch on a device like an tablet or phone where it would be quite difficult to see any difference, or it's simply "background" where the quality doesn't matter.

 

I also don't understand how people can watch TV programming, especially movies or many dramas, without a proper sound system, preferably surround sound, yet how many homes have what used to be called a home theatre?  The number/percentage of audio and videophiles is definitely shrinking, not growing.

Re: Why is there so little 4k TV content?

-G-
Resident Expert
Resident Expert

@wayner92 wrote:

Rogers has been a leader in 4K and have broadcast all Blue Jays home games in HD since 2017.  That is a pretty long time ago.  There is also a TSN 4K channel and we get lots of Leafs and Raptors games in 4K.  But beyond that 4K content seems kind of stalled.

Why haven't all channels moved to 4K by now?  Services like Netflix have a lot of their content in 4K.  I believe that some of the Masters golf tournament is done in 4K, do we get any of that on TSN4K?

Why haven't the US networks gone to 4K?  Or the specialty networks?  I believe that ATSC 3.0 has 4K as a resolution.

I am old enough to remember the transition from SD to HD in the early 2000s and that happened much quicker than today since we are more than 7 years into 4K cable channels being introduced but there are so few 4K channels.

Is it because people don't see the marginal benefit to 4K?  Certainly there are a lot of 4K TVs out there - for at least 5 years pretty much all larger TVs are 4K.


It is still VERY expensive to produce, encode and distribute 4K programming, especially live broadcasts.  (HD, in its early years, also had this same challenge to overcome.)  We also lost momentum, on a number of technical fronts, when the COVID19 pandemic hit.

 

CBS only just broadcast the Super Bowl in 4K for the first time this year.  The major networks don't have much programming produced that could be broadcast in 4K, or all that much "high production value" content produced for TV that would even benefit from being broadcast in 4K.

 

Right now, even the quality of our HD channels is still rather lacklustre, since it typically originates as either a 720p or 1080i signal.  We do not have Blu-Ray-quality broadcasts yet, and so much of our current programming on Canadian HD channels is just reruns of old TV shows, much of which is up-converted SD content.

 

HD quality for TV programs is still good enough.  Streaming services deliver movies in 4K, and 4K TV broadcasts will remain constrained to a few specialty channels.  Who knows when (or if) this will change.  It also still remains to be seen how long the TV industry can survive in its current form.

Re: Why is there so little 4k TV content?

wayner92
I'm a reliable contributor

If live coverage in 4K is a challenge then isn't it ironic that 90% or more of the 4K content that we have available now is live sports?  I guess it is a case of having the cameras and editing equipment installed and Rogers did that at the SkyDome in 2007.  It also must have been done at the Scotia Bank Arena as well.

Parts have the Masters have been available in 4K since 2018:  https://www.masters.com/en_US/news/articles/2018-03-23/2018-03-23_for_the_first_time_ever_watch_the_...

 

4K may be good enough for TV, but many/most/all Netflix produced TV shows for years have been in 4K for years.  So why can Netflix do TV shows in 4K but TV networks can't?  Amazon Prime also has a lot of their content in 4K.

Re: Why is there so little 4k TV content?

-G-
Resident Expert
Resident Expert

@wayner92 wrote:

4K may be good enough for TV, but many/most/all Netflix produced TV shows for years have been in 4K for years.  So why can Netflix do TV shows in 4K but TV networks can't?  Amazon Prime also has a lot of their content in 4K.


Many channels still distribute their source signal to the thousands of broadcasters and cable companies on this continent over satellite, which is why we still have 720p or 1080i source feeds.  Getting more 4K channels out there will be a problem.

 

Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ and other streaming services have their 4K content pre-encoded, and their content is distributed and streamed through content delivery networks, so they can stream with the highest possible quality that their endpoints can receive.  Getting live TV shows on the air is a totally different thing.

 

These days, I think pretty much everything is shot in 4K.  All the high-production-value programming is available in 4K through streaming services.  Eventually, we will get more and more TV programs that can be broadcast in 4K.

 

However, with live programs, 4K shows ALL the flaws, whether it is the quality of the sets or how close-ups of the on-air personalities appear on-screen at ultra-high resolution.

 

It's going to be a while before 4K broadcast TV becomes more mainstream.

Re: Why is there so little 4k TV content?

wayner92
I'm a reliable contributor

Fair enough if distributing the 4K signal is an issue, but then how do TSN4K and Sportsnet4K get distributed around the country - say from the TSN facilities in Toronto to Vancouver?  Do Rogers and Bell just send it over a kind of VPN on their fibre networks?  Or when someone watches Ignite TV on their Shaw/Rogers Ignite 4K box in Vancouver does it come from a server in Toronto?

Re: Why is there so little 4k TV content?

LordDrakkon
I'm a trusted contributor
Even content advertised as 4k from Canadian providers isn't true 4k. It's so compressed, a 1080p Over The Air signal looks better! Canadian media companies are also way too cheap to upgrade their infrastructure to film and distribute in 4k and a lot of content purchased by the networks to air is not filmed in 4k.

Re: Why is there so little 4k TV content?

wayner92
I'm a reliable contributor

Can you give examples of what programs you mean?  Are you talking about baseball, hockey and basketball?  What other Canadian content is there that is advertised as 4K?

Rogers has some drawbacks, but they upgraded their equipment to do 4K in 2017.  Lots of US networks still don't seem to be there.

Re: Why is there so little 4k TV content?

sparkyradar
I've been around

I'm eager for 4k OTA in Vancouver + environs...

 

But I admit that macroblocking, compression and other visible detractions are an issue for me at 1080p so I'm not believing that a 10Gb/s 4k native stream will be presented nicely over-the-air 😮 😞  I'd love to put my SiliconDust tuners to the test though.

 

At least the US is trying:  Madeleine Noland (ATSC prez) stated that ATSC 3.0 now has 75% US-household-reach!

Re: Why is there so little 4k TV content?

wayner92
I'm a reliable contributor

But are ATSC3.0 signals being broadcast in 4K?  The last time that I looked into it the broadcast networks were not broadcasting 4K on their ATSC 3.0 channels.

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