New data from Juniper Research has found that 4K OTT (over-the-top) content will finally see mass-market appeal, with adoption set to soar over the next five years.
The research group found that 4K OTT services will attract over 189 million unique users globally by 2021, up from just 2.3 million this year, driven by greater content availability and compatible devices. In the U.S., this means that 1 in 10 residents will be watching 4K online compared with just 1one in 500 this year. While connected TV will be the dominant channel, viewership will take place through a range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and PCs.
The new research found that although YouTube, Netflix and Amazon already offer some 4K video, network providers have been waiting for a critical mass of content to become available before launching their own 4K offer. However, 2016 has seen roll-out of a number of new 4K offerings, such as the launch of the Sky Q 4K service in the UK, coupled with new hardware launches to provide a means of streaming online 4K content.
Indeed, device compatibility in the past has proved to be a significant barrier for online 4K video. Research author Lauren Foye explained: “The popularity of online video has seen the use of set-top boxes from vendors such as Roku and Amazon soar. However, delivery mechanisms for content have seen slower adoption, as the availability of 4K capable streaming devices is limited. New device launches, such as the 4K capable Xbox One S this month, among others, are likely to spur a boost in 4K usage.”
Whilst there is one commercially available 8K TV currently on the market (priced at $133,000), 8K content is a long way from becoming mainstream. In a similar form to 4K, Juniper sees 8K smart TVs emerging first, followed by streaming devices and set-top boxes, making this a drawn out process.
With Japan seeking to broadcast the 2020 Olympics in 8K, the industry is likely to use this as an opportunity to drive sales of 8K smart TVs. Juniper forecasts that 8K smart TV shipments will grow more than threefold between 2020 and 2021, to reach over 400,000 per annum by the end of the forecast period.