When it comes to getting people into 4K Ultra HD TVs, content is king — what’s the point in getting a new 4K Ultra HD set if there’s nothing to watch on it? And while Netflix and Amazon have considerably ramped up their streaming 4K UHD offerings, many experts maintain that broadcast 4K, specifically 4K sports, is the linchpin to a successful transition to the new format. Well, if that’s the case, then the 4K UHD revolution begins … in Canada?
Canadian cable giant Rogers announced today a new plan to get the jump on rivals at home and across the globe with what the company is calling the “world’s largest commitment to live sports broadcasting in 4K with HDR.” And while 4K UHD resolution alone is enough to make any sports fan a little tingly inside, the addition of HDR may be just as significant, allowing the company to bring bursting contrast and color shading to the latest 4K Ultra HD TVs.
The rollout, which is set to include 100 live sporting events in 4K UHD, including “every 2016 Toronto Blue Jays home game and over 20 marquee NHL Games,” will be riding along with a new 4K set top box. The service will also be released alongside the company’s new Gigabit Internet pipeline set to debut in select areas in Toronto, with a wider roll-out to 4 million homes by the end of 2016.
Rogers’ 4K UHD broadcasting is slated to land in April 2016, in time for the Blue Jays opening home game.
In total, the company promises to provide 500 hours of live sports, movies, and TV shows in 4K UHD in the new year. Along with the live baseball and hockey broadcasts, the breakdown will include 100 hours of 4K movies and series from Canadian streamer Shomi, along with 4K UHD content from Netflix, aided by the new lightning-fast Gigabit Internet service. In Canada, 4K UHD Netflix titles include Narcos, Marvel’s Daredevil, Sense8, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, Gracie and Frankie, Chef’s Table, Bloodline, and House of Cards.
In an effort to ensure all of those Netflix titles make it to Canadian TV sets with the highest picture quality possible, Rogers has also struck a new partnership with the service to link directly to Netflix servers.
“Our partnership with Rogers will make it even easier for Netflix members to watch their favorite shows and films on their TVs,” said Bill Holmes, global head of business development at Netflix, according to the Rogers release. “Members with a Rogers 4K set top box will be able to enjoy Netflix original series in 4K, a more immersive experience with stunning picture quality.”
Today’s move marks a serious commitment to the rising 4K UHD format for Rogers as the company looks to plow past stateside offerings from DirecTV and Comcast, both of which have been talking the 4K talk for sometime now, with little to show for it. As of now, only a few VOD offerings are available in 4K UHD from cable and satellite providers in the U.S., leaving streaming services like Netflix and Amazon as the primary providers of 4K UHD content for most users.
Live sports broadcasting in particular lends itself to the higher resolution, color reproduction, and contrast provided by 4K UHD with HDR. A coveted piece of the 4K puzzle, live broadcasting has raised its head in only small increments, usually in a testing capacity, thus far. If Rogers can accomplish its goal, the service will be far and away the biggest provider of live 4K UHD broadcasts on the global block.
No pricing has been announced for Rogers’ 4K UHD TV service , or the 4K set top box as of yet, but the company’s new Gigabit Internet service will carry a price of $150 per month. Qualifying users in Canada who want to sign up for the services can find out more information on the Rogers home website.