Your dad might still be grumbling about having to buy all his favorite movies on Blu-ray again after buying them on DVD, but the transition to the next format is already on. And it’s happening even faster, according to Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Technology Association.
“4K Ultra HDs make up nearly 50 percent of all TV set sales,” Shapiro announced at a meeting in San Francisco on Monday. “And of course, just about every TV over 50 inches now is 4K Ultra HD.”
4K first migrated from cinemas to consumer living rooms in 2012, but with prices around $25,000 for hardware like Sony’s first 4K TV and few movies to even watch, mainstream adoption seemed a long way off. It arrived quicker than anticipated, says Shapiro.
“Some compare the shift to 4K to the shift to HD, but this transition is actually faster and more robust than the switch to HD.” According to Shapiro, the numbers tell the story: “At year four of the transition to HD, we only sold 2.9 million units. But now, [with 4K], we’re moving 15 million units. More than five times as many units. Our population did not grow that much in the last 15 or 20 years.”
Credit lower prices. According to the CTA, the average 4K TV sold for $1,048 in 2014, compared to $861 in 2016. LG’s majestic G6 will still cost you a cool $8,000, but on the other end, a consumer walking into Best Buy today can walk out with a 43-inch Insignia 4K television for $299.
The content question still looms: What can you watch? But for once, the industry has answers. All of Netflix’s original series are available in 4K, and Amazon Video has followed suit with its own 4K offerings.
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players have finally arrived in force as well, offering high resolution without the compression. According to Amy Jo Smith of the Digital Entertainment Group, a trade group comprised of both TV manufacturers and content producers, the industry has sold more than 700,000 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players in 2016 alone. “We’re not moving away from Blu-ray,” she assured movie buyers of the format, which just turned 10 years old. According to Smith, 63 movies are currently available in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, a third of which are new releases.
While 4K made major progress in the first half of 2016, the real test remains ahead in the fourth quarter, when the CTA expects consumers to sop up 4K TVs for the holidays.