Should My Online Network be in 4k?


Although the price of UHD/4k Television sets continues to drop, there is still a scarcity of available UHD/4k video content on the market today – even in 2019 – and is typically reserved for higher-profile events such as the FIFA world cup.

The only exception is when it comes to over-the-top streaming services (Internet TV). The reason is satellite and cable is far more constrained when it comes to the available bandwidth that it takes to deliver UHD content to viewers.

UHD video is double or triple the bandwidth of standards HD and this means organizations that have a fixed infrastructure can not easily adjust to 4k programming. Its like not having to much traffic and not enough lanes for the data to be piped through.

Today Netflix is probably the largest distributor of 4k video content and will continue to add more 4k to its library. In fact all of Netflix originals are shot in 4k even if only a minority of the audience views it in 4k.

However with that being said is 4k the best choice for your online network? The answer really depends. Although Internet TV leads the way in 4k content, this does not mean that the majority of viewers are viewing 4k content....AND although OTT providers do not have the confined fixed infrastructure of cable and satellite they still have to deal with two significant facts:

1. It costs MUCH more in bandwidth to deliver 4k content to their streaming viewers;

In fact Colin Dixon Chief analyst for nScreenMedia says “UHD content doesn’t represent a big cost increase to OTT services, The costs are related to the number of customers, so when you have only a few customers it really doesn’t cost much. The bad news is that the costs will go up as you gain customers.”

2. The majority of viewers do not have the available bandwidth to view UHD content.

With the average connection speed in North America less than 20Mbps and the average 4k video has an average bit rate of 35Mbps (compared to 6 - 5 Mbps for standard HD) its like trying to fit a watermelon down a small pipe....to much buffering.

Besides the two problems mentioned above there are other problems presented by some ISP's. Most ISP's don't bother the average viewer viewing one or two movies a week. However some ISP's have bandwidth limits, and this can be a serious problem for viewers that want to watch 4k content, as they will quickly reach their bandwidth limit.

On average less than 20% of the market today streams UHD content and that the ISP's infrastructure would have to change before “Everyone” could partake of 4k content.

Dixon estimates that no more than 20 percent of the current U.S. market that regularly watches streaming services is consuming UHD content. “That market is growing, and if 100 percent of the audience suddenly embraced UHD, the broadband providers would have to build up the pipes,” he said.

So the answer to the question is – Filming all of your new content in 4k is just fine....but for the near future having your network in standard HD will server more viewers, and cost you less money (especially when it comes to live streaming/playlists).

If your looking to start your network then check out our Channel Manger by clicking here. We can easily encode your 4k content to HD automatically when you upload to your account.

Brock Fisher
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