Amazon Studios is planning to shoot all its 2014 full original series in high-resolution Ultra HD format — a strategy aimed at helping the e-commerce giant move 4K TVs, which have barely made a dent in the market.
Amazon’s move to produce 4K content is intended to address the classic chicken-and-egg problem with the new format: Consumers aren’t interested in spending a premium for a new Ultra TV unless there’s content they can watch. Here Sony has led the way, such as it is, with the September launch of a direct-to-consumer 4K Ultra HD video download service with 70 movies and TV episodes.
Now Amazon, with just a few holiday shopping days left in 2013, is promising that — at some point — its original comedies and dramas will glisten in Ultra HD, which provides 3840-by-2160-pixel resolution, four times that of full HD 1080p. Amazon also has launched a 4K Ultra HDTV Guide, which includes tech primers and showcases its lineup of 4K TVs, 4K-compatible receivers and Blu-ray players.
SEE ALSO: Experts See Fuzzy Future for Ultra-HD TV
So far, sales of Ultra HDs have been a rounding error for TV makers.
Manufacturers hyped Ultra HD televisions at the 2013 International CES tradeshow in January. But with high price tags and a virtual absence of native 4K content, consumers will buy just 57,000 Ultra HDTVs in 2013, the Consumer Electronics Association projects. By 2015, the trade group expects unit shipments in the category to top 1 million in 2015.
If and when consumer interest in 4K TVs hits critical mass, Internet video distributors see an opportunity to jump in front of physical media formats and pay TV distributors, although the wild card will be how bandwidth-usage caps affect the distribution of Ultra HD VOD. Amazon for its part wants to keep pace with Netflix, which is plotting to introduce its own 4K content next year (though Netflix has not indicated when or whether its originals will be available in Ultra HD).
“As a premium original content creator, we’re excited about 4K and the future of Ultra HD technology, particularly as we move into drama series next year,” Amazon Studios director Roy Price said in a statement.
Price added that “we think customers are going to love watching these series in the highest resolution ever available to consumers and we can’t wait to deliver it.” An Amazon rep said there is no timetable for when the 4K content will be made available through Amazon’s Internet video services.
The shows that Amazon selects to greenlights as full series, incorporating viewer feedback, will be filmed in 4K, according to Amazon Studios. Each of the pilots it orders next year also will be filmed in 4K.