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CES 2019: TV Makers Form 8K Association

Vendors see format on track for broader adoption.

Why would anyone buy an 8K TV?

There’s no content and there isn’t likely to be for a while; there are no plans for an 8K Blu-ray; and streaming providers aren’t interested because there isn’t an adequate compression standard to create small enough files to stream through current streaming pipes.

As if that’s not enough, ATSC 3.0, the recently adopted 4K broadcast standard, can’t handle 8K; initial professional 8K gear is expensive; and not a peep has been heard out of Hollywood about potential 8K content, which is normally Johnny-on-the-spot to try and sell consumers new copies of old films in higher-resolution formats.

So in order to convince the content makers, content providers — especially OTT companies — and consumers to buy into the whole idea of 8K, Hisense, Panasonic, Samsung Electronics, TCL, panel supplier AU Optronics (AUO), and, pending, panel supplier Samsung Display, have banded together to form the 8K Association (8KA).

“Consumers don’t have a clear value proposition, which needs explaining,” admitted 8KA executive director Chris Chinnock at the group’s inaugural CES press conference on Wednesday. “But 8K will mature. I don’t want to say it’s inevitable, but a lot of what’s happening in 8K will mirror what happened with the maturity of 4K. 8K is on cycle for improvement, and all the pieces are moving forward toward broader adoption.”‬‬

‬Chinnock pointed out that Japan’s NHK started broadcasting 12 hours a day of 8K programming last Dec. 1, and plans to broadcast the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games. 8K stakeholders also are buoyed by 5G’s fatter pipes, the more powerful Wi-Fi 802.11ax/Wi-Fi 6 standard, and the more efficient but still developing VVC (Versatile Video Coding) codec, all of which are at similar nascent stages as 8K, but could all complement each other as they grow.‬

‬‬Conspicuous by their absence in the 8KA are LG and Sony, two of the four TV makers who have announced 8K sets. Hisense hasn’t made any specific 8K product announcements, but “will bring 8K ULED products to market,” according to Dr. Weidong Liu, Hisense’s chief scientist. Chinnock noted discussions with LG and Sony are on-going, and he also hopes to engage ATSC and the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) to encourage 8K extensions of their formats.

Specific 8KA goals include:

  • Promoting 8K TVs and 8K content to both consumers and video stakeholders
  • Helping educate consumers and professionals about the 8K ecosystem
  • Helping secure 8K native content for members
  • Encouraging service providers (especially OTT) to develop 8K offerings
  • Facilitating communication within 8K ecosystem to help with commercialization
  • Developing initial technical requirements for 8K input signals
  • Developing initial 8K TV categories and minimum specifications for image quality