DirecTV Launches Multichannel UHD Today – They will be the first multichannel TV service to do so. A variety of new releases, popular films and nature documentaries will be released in UHD resolution and they have teamed with Samsung as their exclusive UHD partner. It will only work with Samsung UHD sets plus the Genie HD DVR, which will allow streaming of the 4K programming. UHD offers about four times the resolution of 1080p HD, but it is reduced horizontally to 3840 pixels whereas the 4K standard used in theatrical projection is 4096. However, the industry has chosen to call consumer UHD 4K. UHDTV is now the 4K standard; there are some models available for under $1000, but most are much more expensive than 1080p HDTVs. DirecTV will begin with nearly 20 movies from Paramount and K2 Communications, with more titles soon.
YouTube Launches Music Streaming Service – Pandora, Spotify and Sound Cloud now have a competitor. Combined, they claim around 12 billion listening hours per year, but YouTube, which just launched the Music Key service (free with ads on the YT site or $10 a month for an ad-free subscription), has six billion hours a month and 40% of that is of music. The licensing is evidently worked out and the streaming quality will probably be comparable with Pandora and the others, but not CD quality as with Deezer and Tidal, which are $20 a month.
Overall Consumer Spending Flat for Q3 – But purchases of new theatrical releases climbed 70% over Q3 in 2013. SVOD was up 26% and the number of U.S. households with Blu-ray is now nearly 80 million. More than 21 millions HDTVs were purchased last year and HDTV penetration is now over 104 million. The flat total spending on home entertainment underscores the ongoing stability of the industry.
Where 3D Audio Stands Now – There is a burgeoning interest in more immersive multichannel audio, and the Society of Motion Picture and TV Engineers (SMPTE) is considering defining a possible immersive audio standard using an object-based approach. Two of the main proposals are Dolby’s Atmos (which has already been installed in many movie theaters and is being offered in several audio preamps and receivers) and the Multi-Dimensional Audio (MDA) format – which is supported by the MDA Consortium, including DTS, Doremi Labs, Ultra-Stereo Labs, Barco, QSC and Auro Technologies. A final decision on a new object-based sound standard is not expected soon. Auro recently launched their Auro-3D Mensa and Crux AV sound processors, using MDA technology.