SMPTE: Fox Exec Seeing 'No Interest' In Delivering 4K

Fox Sports vp field operations Jerry Steinberg says Ultra HD broadcasting is a “monumental task with not a lot of return.”
LG's 84-inch, 4K LED TV

Underscoring the hesitance that many professionals are feeling about Ultra HD TV, Fox Sports vp of field operations Jerry Steinberg asserted that he doesn’t see 4K broadcasting in Fox’s near future.

“We have no interest into doing 4K [four times the resolution of today’s HD] telecasts or moving 4K signals to living rooms,” the exec said Monday at the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers conference at Loews Hollywood Hotel. “We spent millions going to HD and never got an extra dime from advertisers. … It seems today [4K broadcasting] is a monumental task with not a lot of return.”

That view was echoed on another panel by Bryan Burns, president and CEO of Forward Direction Group, who is an ESPN alum and was involved in its HD and 3D efforts. Burns believes that for 4K to have any chance in broadcast production, the “key component” is that it would need to be an incremental expense. “Who makes money [in 4K]? I don’t think broadcasters,” he admitted.

Some in the consumer electronics community say the upconversion capabilities found in many 4K displays will help the market by giving consumers a taste of higher resolution broadcasting. To this point, Burns said, “I hope we don't hear [stakeholders say] that, 'if there was only more 4K content [it would take off].’ If there’s a chip that upconverts everything for you, it makes it harder for producers to invest in creating the [native] content.”

Steinberg noted that Fox is among the broadcasters that have tapped 4K cameras for certain HD sports coverage. Here, the resolution is high enough that the broadcaster is able to extract a portion of a frame, for instance, to zoom in to show a key play, and broadcast it in HD. “We were able to tell the story with clarity,”  he said. “This Super Bowl, I would probably have six 4K cameras.”

But in considering a move to 4K broadcasting, which is four times the resolution of  today’s HD, broadcasters are also paying attention to what might be on the horizon.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK is already showing 8K, which is 16 times that of HD. This prompted Burns to ask: “How soon is that going to come? A word of caution.”

Before this session wrapped, the audience members were asked who they believe stands to make money in 4K.

By a show of hands, plenty said it was set makers and the retailers.

But few raised their hands when asked if there were opportunities to make money for production, postproduction, networks or the studios.


Twitter: @CGinLA