8K Association Updates on Developments in Malaga
The 4KHDR Summit has taken place in Malaga, Spain, with local support but international reach, over almost a decade and once again, the 8K Association was asked to present. Although the event is labelled 4K, it has always looked ahead at technology trends and developments so has also featured 8K technology. Mike Fidler, the Executive Director of the 8K Association gave his presentation at the event.
The title of the talk was “Understanding the challenges and opportunities with 8K Technology”. He was straightforward in starting with the acknowledged challenges that have meant a change in tactics for the 8K Association to focus more on the enthusiast segments of the market and content creation.
- The whole TV world is facing significant challenges with average selling prices (ASPs) falling in many regions which has impacted the premium end of the TV market. It has been widely reported by analysts that even the OLED segment, so strongly loved by display enthusiasts, is down on a year ago. Part of the reason for this slowdown has been the generally difficulty of the global macroeconomic situation including the pressures of inflation.
- There is still weakness in TV demand as a hangover from Covid, when many bought new TVs to make the most of being at home. Now many consumers are spending on travel and are not yet ready to buy TVs again.
- There is limited native 8K video content available and a lack of major Hollywood studio support for 8K display. (We’ll cover the topic more in a separate article covering the talks of other speakers at the event).
- The issues related to the EU power regulations had put a negative spin on 8K TV, although the brands had worked around the problem to ensure that buyers could still access the new sets.
There are, on the other hand, a lot of opportunities in the development of 8K.
- Although many buyers had bought sets during Covid, there has been a trend, reported by analysts, for consumers to replace their TVs more frequently. (In a separate talk, TV analyst Paul Gray of Omdia, who also spoke at the event, highlighted that consumers really want much better operation of their SmartTVs and that could be a factor in this faster replacement). The change to more frequent replacement should boost many markets around the world including the US.
- DSCC, an analyst of the display industry supply chain, forecasts good growth for 8K. Part of the background to that is that miniLED-based TVs will get cheaper as, according to Paul Gray of Omdia, Sony and Samsung will significantly boost their offering of miniLED sets in 2024. That should help with economies of scale in miniLED TVs and bring down the premium for the technology. In turn, more volumehelps the suppliers of LCDs, who dominate 8K TV sales.
- There has been a really significant boost in the last year or so in the availability of high quality 8K capture devices at affordable prices, from prosumer cameras to smartphones and that has enabled a significant boost to the use of 8K to capture content.
- Some streamers are looking to continue to offer premium services with higher image quality to attract higher value subscriptions.
- Advanced AI is continuing to develop to further improve upscaling of 4K, HD and even SD content, enabling a better experience on 8K sets even without much native content.
- The sizes of new TV set sales continue to get bigger in many markets including the US and these days, the CTA found in the US that 65″ is now considered to be the ‘Sweet Spot’ for volume sales.
- Better semiconductors and systems mean that editing 8K is easier still (and regular readers will remember that at the Malaga event a year ago, NHK pointed out that the technical barriers had already gone).
- There are continuing developments in 8K encoding, for example with VVC, to enable delivery at lower bitrates.
- In 8K decoding, all the major SOC chip makers have 8K decoding in their products.
- The top five TV set makers, Samsung, Sony, LG, TCL and Hisense all have 8K products.
Fidler highlighted that it is very important to continue to build advocacy for 8K in the market via the press, retail partners and with enthusiast consumers. The growth in the consumer electronics market is built on innovation and that has to continue. He showed slides that highlighted the strong support across the supply chain for 8K from capture to delivery and display.
It is also essential to fully engage with creatives. In the consumer electronics market, the creatives are often left out of the conversation but bringing bringing them in really helps them to understand what they can do with the technology to communicate emotion more effectively.
It is sometimes said that “there’s no visible difference between 4K and 8K” and Fidler pointed out that in a recent article, professional TV reviewer and a well respected voice in the press, John Archer, had said that even when viewing lower resolution content, when it’s viewed on an 8K TV it’s a better overall experience.
The EU energy regulations had been something of a challenge but Fidler knows that they are working hard to address the sustainability topic.
There remains the usual ‘chicken and egg’ challenge of any new TV technology (and several speakers at the event commented that what was being said about 8K this year was very similar to what was said about 4K when the event started and even about HD, earlier). However, ‘TV time’ is a key part of family life and that won’t quickly change so bringing a better experience remains a key development.