SES has been supplying test Ultra-HD transmissions over the US for some months. Vivicast Media is its partner, and Vivicast used the NAB show in Las Vegas to announce its first contracts, with a pair of multichannel video programming distributors to supply a bouquet of ten UHD channels.
Marquette-Adams of Oxford, Wisconsin and Highlands Cable Group of Highlands, North Carolina have licensed the Vivicast Media UHD bundles. SES says that a number of other cable providers are also close to launching its UHD channels. Currently, more than 20 cable operators are trialling the SES UHD offering.
Programming on the SES UHD line-up features Fashion One 4K, Travelxp 4K, 4KUNIVERSE, NASA TV UHD, INSIGHT TV, UHD1, C4K360, Funbox 4K, Nature Relaxation 4K as well as SES’s UHD demo channel. These channels are hosted on a trio of SES satellites at the centre of the orbital arc (SES-1, SES-3, AMC-18), which between them cover 100 per ent of the cable head-ends in the US.
“These historic commercial linear UHD services are being delivered to subscriber homes by cutting-edge pay TV providers, who are leveraging SES’s satellite-based UHD platform,” said Steve Corda, VP/Business Development in North America for SES. “We have delivered on our bold plan announced at NAB two years ago, which was laser-focused on enabling linear Ultra HD home delivery in half the time it took HD to reach the same television milestone in the US. SES cut through the operational and technical barriers with our scalable solution delivered via satellite, which provides high quality Ultra HD and can reach over 100 million television households throughout North America.”
Corda explained that there’s plenty of work still to do. “We have around 950 individual operators in the US and each has their own way of working. Some of them have already invested in 4K-enabled set-top boxes, but others have yet to make the move. Others are in the process of deployment, but having 10 channels available – and hopefully more to come – allows operators to initiate consumer tests and trials and to better understand the technology. Ten channels available is a major step, but we are in discussion with others. And these channels are not ‘just’ UHD but contain the world’s first all-HDR channel (Travelxp 4K) and other channels which are shifting to all-HDR production.”
“Thanks to two forward-thinking pay-TV systems, the future of 4K is beginning to unfold in the US. Vivicast Media salutes Marquette-Adams and Highlands Cable Group on becoming the first traditional cable systems in the nation to successfully meet the growing demand for entertainment delivered in next-generation 4K,” said Stuart Smitherman, President/Vivicast Media. “Vivicast Media and SES have together greatly accelerated the delivery of compelling Ultra HD TV networks to homes across the US, including the world’s first High Dynamic Range channel, Travelxp.”
“We have launched our UHD services well ahead of schedule on SES’s breakthrough solution, which has enabled Highlands Cable Group subscribers to be among the first to enjoy 4K Ultra HD television in North Carolina,” said Nin Bond, Managing Member/GP, Highlands Cable Group. “Response to our new UHD services has been extremely strong, as our subscribers can watch a tremendous line-up of UHD content on their new 4K UHD TVs.”
“We are very excited to be among the first to bring world-class Ultra HD services home to our subscribers here in Wisconsin,” noted Jerry Schneider, CEO/GM, Marquette-Adams. “Through our collaboration with SES, Marquette-Adams is looking forward to expanding our Ultra HD business with more exciting, game-changing programming and features.”