Perhaps you just picked up one of those new 4K Ultra HD TV sets for Christmas, or are planning to acquire one before the Super Bowl, and now you’ve got a big question–what about 4K programming? Where is it?
It exists, if you know where to look. There’s just not a lot of it.
But have no fear–you’ll start to see more of it in 2016–just not on the big, broadcast networks.
“It’s the chicken and egg thing,” says long-time tech analyst Tim Bajarin, of Creative Strategies. “There haven’t been enough 4K TVs sold to warrant the investment from the broadcast networks.”
But, according to Matt McRae, the chief technology officer for TV manufacturer Vizio, “that will change in the middle of 2016.”
For now, you can see movies in 4K on streaming services Netflix, Amazon Prime and Vudu, and this year 4K Blu-ray discs and players are finally expected in stores. The Dish Network, which announced a 4K satellite receiver at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show, is expected to finally begin shipping it this year, while DirecTV is expected to start promoting 4K service in a big way as well.
But programming still comes to down to movies and a few series–Netflix offers the Marco Polo, Daredevil, Grace and Frankie and House of Cards original series in 4K, along with Breaking Bad, first seen on cable in HD and NBC’s The Blacklist.
Amazon offers the originals Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle in 4K, along with movies, while if you have a smart TV with a YouTube channel, the video network offers many videos in 4K, mostly travel and action sport related.
The amount of 4K programming has “gone up tenfold,” says McRae. “But it’s still tenfold over a small number. You’ll see another tenfold this year, and you’ll see a tremendous amount of 4K content coming from the studios.”
One very recent entrant is Ultraflix, a streaming service available on the new Roku 4 streaming media box and select Sony and Vizio smart TVs. Ultraflix boasts of over “600” hours of 4K programming, mostly older movies, available on a rental basis, for around $10 a title. Movies include Gladiator, Top Gun, The Godfather and Beverly Hills Cop.
According to researcher Futuresource Consulting, some 30 million 4K TVs are expected to sell for 2015, but that’s still a fraction of TV sales–which clocked in at 235 million in 2014.
Bajarin says the broadcast and cable networks won’t start to take 4K seriously until 4K TVs are in 35% to 40% of homes–and now they’re at 5% at best.
The good news is that prices for 4K TV sets have come down dramatically–from the multiple thousands of dollars at first, to many under $1,000. Vizio recently broke that barrier with a 43-inch set for $600.
And now that 4K TV sales are starting to take off–look out for 8K.
“I know of at least 3 new 8K TVs that will be introduced at CES,” says Bajarin.
You know the drill–8K = 16 times the resolution of standard HD–time to upgrade your old set.
“That’s how the industry works,” says Bajarin.
Deporting ‘affluenza teen’ to US would violate his rights, lawyer says
Extradition of the infamous “affluenza teen” Ethan Couch could be months away, according to his new lawyer Fernando Benitez.
US authorities hoped to have Couch in custody as early as Thursday but the teen’s lawyerswon a stay of deportation late last week. It could now take months for Couch to be deported back into the US, Benitez told WFAA, an ABC affiliate in Texas.
Couch came into the national spotlight in 2013, after his lawyers argued that a condition of “affluenza” in part led him to kill four people in a drunk-driving accident.
Having been raised by wealthy parents, a 16-year-old Couch never learned the difference between right and wrong, they argued. They added that Couch did not understand the consequences of his actions. Couch ultimately pleaded guilty, and a juvenile court judge sentenced him to rehab and 10 years probation, rather than the recommended 20-years in prison.
Under the terms of his probation, Couch was not allowed to drive, drink or take drugs. In early December a short video surfaced alleging that he had violated the terms of his probation by drinking. Even though the authorities have yet to publicly confirm that Couch was the man in the video, he and his mother, Tonya Couch, promptly fled to Mexico.
After Couch failed to meet with his probation officer in early December, local authorities in Texas issued a warrant for his arrest. Eleven days after FBI and US marshals joined the hunt, officers arrested the teen in the resort city of Puerto Vallarta, where a Domino’s pizza delivery tipped them off. Couch and his mother were detained on Monday 28 December.
American authorities said that Couch and his mother entered Mexico illegally, and therefore should be returned to the US. A judge at the Mexican immigration court will hear Couch’s case, and after which will have 90 days to make a ruling.
Benitez argues that kicking Couch out of Mexico would violate his rights.
“He hasn’t committed a crime in Mexico,” Benitez told WFAA. “Why would Mexico go along with this idea of locating someone and summarily kicking them out of the country so the marshals can grab him across the border? I don’t think that’s OK .”
The matter of Couch’s deportation will take at least two weeks to resolve, according to Richard Hunter, chief deputy for the US marshals service in south Texas.
“It also depends on the fact the Couches have legal counsel. And it seems to me, if they wanted to, they could pay them as much money as they want to drag this thing out,” Hunter said on Wednesday. “We’re hopeful that’s not the case. We’re hopeful the Mexican immigration court will make a quick and decisive decision and return the Couches to America.”
Benitez, however, has other plans.
Related: ‘Affluenza’ teen wins stay of deportation in Mexico as mother flown to US
“From the hearing, a judge has up to 90 days to issue a ruling. After that, we could appeal a decision. We’re going to take this to the full extent of our capacity and have whoever needs to review it,” he told WFAA.
While Couch awaits his fate in Mexico, his mother returned to US on Thursday and remains in custody in Los Angeles.
She has been charged with hindering with her son’s arrest and faces between two to 10 years in jail. Her bail has been set to $1m, which she will be allowed to pay on arrival in Texas.