Despite numerous broadcasts in both Canada and Europe, owners of 4K Ultra High Definition TVs in the U.S. had been on the outside looking in when it came to live UHD events — until yesterday, that is.
On April 7, AT&T/DirecTV began airing the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in the high-resolution format, marking the first broadcast of its kind and the launch of DirecTV’s long-awaited dedicated 4K channel. If you missed the launch, there are still three days of action, with the big finale on Sunday.
In a surprise move, the satellite provider also teed up two additional 4K channels for a total of three. Here’s the rundown as first reported by TV Predictions:
-Channel 104: Full-time 4K channel offering nature documentaries and original content from the DirecTV/AT&T Audience Network.
-Channel 105: Full-time pay-per-view movie channel offering feature films and short documentaries.
-Channel 106: Part-time event-based channel airing free and pay-per-view events, including 2016 Master’s coverage.
Early 4K UHD TV adopters have been champing at the bit for such a development literally for years. The anticipation heated up when DirecTV first tipped its plans for 4K UHD broadcasts with the launch of a dedicated 4K satellite back in December of 2015, and the company has been making promises ever since, most recently saying its first broadcast would be early in 2016. Yesterday, the massive telecom finally made good on that promise.
Touting the sharper detail, richer color, and overall clearer picture that comes with resolution that’s got four times the pixels of 1080p HD, AT&T has made sure to highlight how special it will be for golf fans to be able to watch the major in 4K. The detail may allow viewers to actually see the ball spin in the air and to pick out individual divots in the turf, according to the company.
“Golf’s premier event deserves the best viewing experience that 4K UHD on DirecTV provides,” said Dan York, chief content officer of AT&T Entertainment Group, in a statement. “Once you see it in 4K on DirecTV, it’s going to be tough to see it any other way – unless you’re there in person.”
To see all the action, you’ll need to have a manufacturer-certified DirecTV 4K Ready TV (listed here) or a compatible 4K TV (meaning any model with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 support) connected to the latest 4K Genie Mini, along with the latest Genie HD DVR (HR54). On top of that, you’ll also need to subscribe to either DirecTV’s Ultimate or Premier packages. The Masters is scheduled to air April 7-10 from around 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET.
While this news may not hit quite the same note for those who aren’t huge golf fans, that doesn’t make it any less monumental. The move marks a landmark in a major carrier broadcasting in 4K within the U.S., and the new channels promise to be the first of many to help increase the amount of 4K content available. Moreover, today’s news also highlights the potential UHD holds for enhancing sports coverage — something cable and satellite companies still hold as a trump card over streaming services, which entered the 4K arena with Netflix in April of 2014.
For Comcast — which also has been signaling plans for 4K UHD broadcasts this year — and other satellite and cable providers, the gauntlet has been thrown down.