The UK pay-TV battleground between Virgin, BT and Sky, is to benefit the 4K UHDTV technology with BT and Sky offering an IP-linked set-top box that will yield 4K content as part of their service.
This is because BT is stepping in to the battleground when it comes to broadcast rights for UK and European football (soccer) matches and 4K UHDTV will become a bargaining chip whenever the rights are being renegotiated. It is also about keeping the subscriber base alive through and beyond the footie season especially as 4K UHDTV-capable sets start to come in to price ranges that most can think about.
Both the companies will deliver the 4K UHDTV services via Internet with the use of 4K-capable set-top boxes that are connected to the home network and Internet service. These companies are also on about offering the services as a multi-play “eggs in one basket” package with pay-TV and fixed broadband Internet along with, perhaps, fixed-line telephony and a mobile telecommunications service. The 4K technology will be seen more as a subscription driver for these multi-play services.
They are also factoring in multi-room and multi-screen viewing so you can view the TV content on devices like your regular computer or your tablet.
Sky’s imminent 4K-capable set-top will be seen as a way to stave off them shedding subscribers due to loss of Champions League footie broadcasts. This is while BT is intending to have 4K on BT Sport within months with the provision of a new set-top in UK Spring that will be augmented with a heavy marketing push. Let’s not forget that Virgin Media, UK’s cable-TV service, is not taking this lying down. They are trialling a 4K UHDTV service with an intent to put 4K down the cable.
Brits will have to eventually consider implementing a wired backbone along with their Wi-Fi network as this momentum becomes strong with the competing pay-TV providers. This will most likely mean looking towards HomePlug AV500 or HomePlug AV2 which uses the existing ring main that delivers the household electricity as the “wired no-new-wires” data backbone.