06 Apr Vubiquity: Out of the Mouth of ‘Baskets’ Comes the Paradox of 4K
As industry executives, it’s a good idea to sometimes step back from the day to day and ‘act’ like a consumer in our world. Donna Thomas, SVP, Sales at Vubiquity is a dynamic executive by day, and by night, put on her consumer hat to talk about 4K from her armchair…
I absolutely love TV! I watch way too much, but I figure, I’m in the Industry so I it’s my job to watch, right? Also, it’s incredibly hard to explain to friends and family what I do. Digital Media? Digital Supply Chain? Enter glazed eyes staring back at me until I mention I work in Television.
Recently, I was binge-watching Baskets on FX and magic happened! I mean, Baskets is a terrific show and Louis Anderson as Christine Baskets is sensational. But that’s not what I’m talking about for this. Right in my living room, I was watching the perfect intersection of what I do for a living and stellar tv unfold before my very eyes.
In this scene, Chip Baskets (Zach Galifianakis) wants to win back his wife Penelope who is shacked up with a handsome younger guy. So, Chip buys a 4K television with his $900 insurance check to impress her. Chip sets up the TV in the living room as Penelope and the new boyfriend watch. She says “It’s the same TV we have.” Chip responds, “No, this is 4K. It has like RAM Coaxial Splits… It’s ULTRA HD, better than regular HD.” They watch a beautiful clip of the Grand Canyon and a bee pollinating a sunflower and all marvel at the crisp picture quality, then Penelope asks whether she can watch a new movie in 4K.
Chip’s response: “Well, no, right now we watch the demo disc.”
There you have it! The challenges the industry faces today with 4K UHD adoption, right out of the mouth of Chip Baskets. Big box stores and online retailers are pushing 4K TVs as the must-have purchase, yet the content we most want to watch is only slowly rolling out in 4K.
All signs point to high demand for 4K UHD content, and the streaming networks (i.e., Netflix and Amazon) are ahead of the pack in providing this visually rich experience for consumers. But the reality is that 4K content right now is cost prohibitive to create, acquire and distribute. Distributors and content creators must be able to charge consumers a premium for higher resolution, or dramatically reduce supply chain costs to justify providing a critical mass of content.
Plus, there’s a lot more involved in enjoying 4K content than just buying a new TV. Content must be first prepared to be displayed in 4K. Most of the time, this involves going back to the original source material. Depending on how the content was produced, it may not even be up to 4K standards. If it is, the content will need to be remastered to bring out the detail and color required. Next come the challenges of distributing 4K content. It takes four times the data to encode 4K content vs HD. Instead of distributing four times the amount of data, new ways to encode and decode 4K content have been developed. This involves a technology refresh throughout the distribution chain from mastering, localization, versioning, asset management, encoding, packaging and delivery. At Vubiquity, we are working with our partners and vendors to stay ahead of the technology curve, enable our studio partners to prepare content for quality consumers expect, and develop workflows to reduce costs and time to market.
The industry needs to provide a more cost-effective way to create and distribute 4K content, such as automation of 4K/UHD workflows, or Penelope will remain limited in what she’s able to watch on her new 4K tv. It’s up to us as an industry to create a critical mass of 4K content, or poor Chip will never be able to win her back.
Vubiquity was recently acquired by Amdocs and will be giving a 4K presentation
at NAB in Las Vegas on April 10.
If you are interested please email Michele Edelman, EVP, Marketing at firstname.lastname@example.org.