The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show is just getting underway, but before the annual technology gathering even started it managed to raise more awareness for high-definition video streaming than ever before.
Called 4K, or Ultra HD, this technology allows video streams at nearly four times the resolution of 1080p. While it’s been a hot point of discussion in tech circles and those of us in the streaming video space, it’s not gotten much consumer press attention because until recently there’s been no consistent way to view or stream 4K content natively.
That’s now changing for several reasons. One is technology focused, with YouTube announcing it will deliver 4K content using the VP9 technology from parent company Google. VP9 is a royalty free codec designed to deliver 4K quality content more efficiently, specifically by cutting in half the amount of data needed to stream the format and reduce buffering times. YouTube has struck deals with 19 partners to support the technology.
That leads to a second reason 4K is gaining traction—controversy. The Google/YouTube move on VP9 sets up a format fight with the existing “standard”—HEVC. The few devices supporting 4K today use HEVC, as do content streaming services like Netflix. Google is hoping to muscle in on this space by offering VP9 for free, while HEVC charges a fee. It’ll be interesting to see how the market reacts.
Finally, there’s the devices. This is CES after all, and for all the talk about technology and content… this show will always be about the gadgets. And sure enough, we’re already seeing TVs with 4K support. Vizio debuted its first 4K units on the day before the official start to CES, and other brands are sure to follow in the days ahead. What’s interesting about this is that the TV manufacturers now believe there’s a consumer path to 4K content, and that path is streaming video. With YouTube now on board, the world’s largest provider of streaming video, expect an acceleration of both consumer and industry adoption.
PS> Beachfront CEO, Frank Sinton will speak at Digital Hollywood/CES tomorrow at 10:30 on mobile advertising with fellow panelists including Google’s George Meredith, WPP Group’s Shawn Fenton, David Berkowitz of MRY, Possible’s Andrew Solmssen, Time Warner Cable Media’s Fred Bucher, and Skype’s Al Kallel, with IBB Consulting’s Jonathan Weitz moderating.
Headed to Vegas? What are you looking forward to?