UHD Alliance, Blu-ray Disc Association Tout 4K UHD at CES

The UHD Alliance and the Blu-ray Disc Association were at the 2019 CES in Las Vegas to tout the success of the 4K Ultra HD format and new promotional efforts.

The UHD Alliance currently has 43 members — comprised of electronics manufacturers, film and television studios, content distributors, and technology companies — with such companies as Charter Communications and Google joining last year to better understand how to deliver high dynamic range (HDR) content, said UHDA president Mike Fidler.

“Google of course brought out the Pixel 3 and that is a certified Mobile HDR Premium product,” he said.

The group also continues to certify products as Ultra HD Premium, with 46 new products added in 2018 to bring the total to 63 products (TVs, computer monitors, mobile devices and Ultra HD Blu-ray Players) and 10 companies offering certified products. The UHDA has also offered new broadcast recommendations to facilitate broadcast of Ultra HD Premium certified content.

The group continues to educate at such events as IFA, the 4K Summit, MWC, CEDIA and, of course, CES.

“We’re out at trade shows on an ongoing basis,” Fidler said.

Its educational website, ExperienceUHD.com, which launched in 2017, has been upgraded in the past year. It offers “how to” home theater set up information; educational information on HDR, 4K resolution, wider color spectrum, color bit depth and immersive audio; and social media links. Its biggest reach is with Millennials and Generation Z, according to Fidler.

Educational information on interoperability of different products went up on the site in October 2018.

“We are spending considerable resources,” Fidler said, to identify interoperability problems and offer steps on the website to fix them. The UHDA buys product at retail to test.

For instance, the website shows consumers how to set up TVs with screen shots of menus.

“It’s been really popular from a usage standpoint,” Fidler said, adding that every year the menus change “so we continue to do this.”

Sometime in the first quarter, the UHDA plans to put test patterns on the sight to help consumers see if they are getting true HDR.

The UHDA collaborated with Amazon on a section of the online behemoth’s site — which also offers a link to ExperienceUHD.com — to better educate consumers about the format. That product launched in August 2018.

“Other retailers have gotten in touch with us recently [about helping with sites],” Fidler said.

The group also unveiled a dynamic typograph asset at CES (developed in collaboration with the Digital Entertainment Group Europe), available for retailers and partners.

The UHDA is expanding its efforts into Europe, especially Germany, France and the United Kingdom, Fidler said.

In another initiative, the UHDA surveyed the creative community, getting close to 400 responses from cinematographers, colorists, directors, digital imaging specialists, editors, producers, VFX supervisors, writers and others on their preferences for and the importance of the format. The effort was recognized at the fall 4K UHD summit. In the survey, 86.1% answered “Most Important” to the question: “How important is it to you to have a simple way to get your home TV setup similar to monitors in the color grading suite for viewing content that YOU created?”

Actor Tom Cruise’s recent Twitter missive about motion smoothing was inspired by the survey, Fidler said.

Meanwhile, the 4K UHD market continues to grow with all 55-inch and larger panels available in UHD only and 100% of 50-inch and larger TV shipments expected to be in the format by the end of this year, according to IHS Markit data cited by the UHDA.

On the content side, the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) noted that Ultra HD Blu-ray, both hardware and software, experiencing approximately 40% and 60% growth, respectively, in 2018, with catalog, local/regional and episodic TV titles increasingly joining new release theatricals on the format.

Standalone Ultra HD Blu-ray player sales for 2018 are expected to surpass 2017 by 44%, and growth of another 30% is anticipated for 2019, according to Futuresource data cited by the BDA. Meanwhile, 15% of all Blu-ray players shipped worldwide in 2018 are expected to be Ultra HD Blu-ray, with 25% projected in 2019 (excluding Xbox One sales), according to data cited by the BDA. The worldwide UHD Blu-ray player installed base is expected to reach 4.5 million by the end of 2018. As of December 2018, there were 29 4K UHD BD player models and 11 4K UHD recorder/player models for a total of 40, according to the BDA.

Global 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray sales continue to grow steadily, with an 83% increase in 2018 vs. 2017, and a further growth of 45% forecast for 2019, according to the BDA. Ultra HD Blu-rays are expected to account for 11% of Blu-rays sold worldwide in 2018, rising to 22% by 2020 and 40% by 2022, according to the BDA.

About 430 4K UHD Blu-ray titles were available in the United States by the end of 2018, the BDA reported, with such notable recent catalog releases as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix and Close Encounters of the Third Kind and such episodic TV releases as “Game of Thrones,” “Planet Earth 2” and “Dr. Who: Twice Upon a Time.”

BDA president Victor Matsuda was especially impressed with Lionsgate’s decision to release Twilight, which skews to a younger audience, on 4K UHD Blu-ray.

“Recognizing the business possibilities in reissuing that type of title was really encouraging,” he said.

With streaming 4K UHD still dependent on the pipeline to the home (Netflix recommends 25Mbps for 4K), the fact that most users’ service is less robust makes the physical disc more compelling, he said. Only 21% in the U.S. manage to meet the Netflix standard, while such European countries as Germany, France and the United Kingdom manage even less of a percentage.

To tout the benefits of 4K UHD Blu-ray, the BDA also unveiled a sizzle reel at CES for members.

Streaming, TVOD Fuel Consumer Spending on Home Entertainment to Record Heights

Consumer spending on home entertainment hit a new record in 2018, buoyed by subscription streaming as well as transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group announced Jan. 8.

Total consumer spending on home entertainment during the year shot up to an estimated $23.3 billion, up 11.5% from total consumer spending in 2017, the DEG said, noting that figures are preliminary. Final numbers will be issued in early February.

As expected, subscription streaming — chiefly through Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu — led the way, with a 30% year-over-year gain to $12.9 billion.

Consumers spent an estimated $2.46 billion on digital purchases of movies, TV shows and other content, up 14.4% from what they spent in 2017.

They spent another $2.09 billion to stream movies on demand, the electronic equivalent of renting a DVD or Blu-ray Disc, up 6.2% from the prior year.

Total spending on TVOD, the DEG estimates, came in at $4.55 billion, a healthy 10.5% spike from TVOD spending in 2017.

Total disc sales continued to fall, despite the growing popularity of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, with consumer spending on physical media in 2018 coming in at an estimated $4.03 billion, a 14.6% drop from the prior year.

In the fourth quarter, home entertainment spending was particularly strong, with an overall gain of 13% to $6.3 billion.

Subscription streaming the fourth quarter was up 30% to an estimated $3.49 billion, while EST rose 20.2% to $664 million and on-demand streaming was up 21.8% to nearly $517 million.

Combined consumer spending on DVDs and Blu-ray Discs in the fourth quarter of 2018 was $1.24 billion, down 14.8% from the fourth quarter of 2017.

Sales of 4K UHD content rose 70% during the year and 46% in the fourth quarter. The number of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles available in the market grew to 445 titles, with another 682 4K titles available digitally.

The box-office performance of films released in the year rose nearly 15%.

Among the bestselling film titles released on 4K for the home in 2018 were: Justice League (Warner Bros.), Ready Player One (Warner Bros.), Mission: Impossible — Fallout (Paramount), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Universal Pictures), Deadpool 2 (20th Century Fox) and Avengers: Infinity War (Walt Disney Studios).

4K UHD TV penetration rose 61% over the year-earlier period, to 48 million households, DEG says. Also during the year, penetration of 4K-capable player devices (game consoles and set-top boxes) rose 66%, to 13 million homes.

 

 

‘The Grinch’ Sliding to Digital Jan. 22, Disc Feb. 5 From Universal

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch is coming to digital (including Movies Anywhere) Jan. 22 and 4K Ultra HD combo pack, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Feb. 5 from Illumination and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film earned $267.4 million in North American theaters, making it the year’s No. 6 movie, according to Box Office Mojo.

Based on the Dr. Seuss tale, the animated film follows a cynical grouch who goes on a mission to steal Christmas from others only to feel his own heart grow three sizes larger through unexpected friendships. Narrated by Pharrell Williams, The Grinch stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange, “Sherlock”) as the Grinch, who lives a solitary life inside a cave on Mt. Crumpit with his loyal dog, Max, for company. The voice cast also includes Rashida Jones (“Parks and Recreation,” The Muppets) as Donna Who, Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”) as Bricklebaum, Cameron Seely (The Greatest Showman) as Cindy-Lou Who and Angela Lansbury (AnastasiaBeauty and the Beast) as the mayor of Whoville.

The home entertainment edition contains more than 60 minutes of bonus content, including three mini-movies: “Dog Days of Winter” starring the Grinch and his heroically loyal dog Max; and “Yellow is the New Black” and “Santa’s Little Helpers,” both starring the Minions. It also includes featurettes and a how-to-draw tutorial.

Bonus features exclusive to disc include the interactive map “Who’s Who in Who-ville” and the “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” lyric video.

FandangoNow Launches 4K Title Sale

FandangoNow is offering a code for 10% off 4K UHD titles for the New Year with the tag “Make 4K Your Resolution.”

The code is good through Jan. 7 “while supplies last,” according to the online VOD service, and is valid for up to 20 uses. It excludes bundles.

Through Jan. 1, the service offered $8 off Fandango movie tickets for every $20 spent on FandangoNow.

Research: Number of Global UHD TV Homes Passes 200 Million

The number of homes worldwide using an Ultra HD TV has now passed the 200 million mark, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics’ Connected Home Devices service.

The report, 4K and 8K Ultra HDTV Global Market Forecast, predicts that 222 million homes will own an Ultra HD TV by the end of 2018, an increase of nearly 50% over the past twelve months. The report also forecasts that more than 600 million homes will own an Ultra HD TV by 2023. The vast majority of these homes will have a 4K display — only 3% of Ultra HD TVs in use will be 8K-ready by this time.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • North America will continue to lead in adoption of Ultra HD TVs, with 71% of homes owning one by 2023;
  • The largest market in terms of annual sales of Ultra HD TVs is the Asia Pacific region, where they will reach nearly 46 million units this year;
  • Sales of 8K Ultra HDTVs will reach more than 400,000 units in 2019 and more than 11 million by 2023, which will represent a 6% share of the total Ultra HD TV market; and
  • By 2023 3.9% of Ultra HDTV homes in North America will own 8K displays, compared to 4.1% in Asia Pacific and 1.7% in Western Europe.

“The success of Ultra HDTV has been driven by technology adoption rather than content and services,” said David Mercer, principal analyst and the report’s author, in a statement. “4K video and TV services are now becoming more widely available, meeting the expectations of 4K Ultra HDTV owners for the best quality TV experience. But our expectations for 8K services should be cautious: while Japan has now launched 8K TV in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the rest of the world will be slower to follow suit, given that the number of homes with 8K-ready TVs will remain low until the mid 2020s.”

“Owners of 8K TVs will primarily be watching 4K and HD content, while the TV’s image processors will do a good job of scaling most content to give impressive images,” said David Watkins, director at Strategy Analytics, in a statement. “Amidst the excitement surrounding 8K TVs, it is important to remember that image resolution, whether native or otherwise, is only one element in perceived video quality, and TV vendors and content players alike should not lose focus on other important drivers of consumer satisfaction, such as High Dynamic Range (HDR) and High Frame Rate (HFR).”

Best Buy Extends Holiday Deals With ’20 Days of Doorbusters’

On the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, Best Buy has unveiled yet another promotion for the holidays starting Dec. 1: “20 Days of Doorbusters.”

Consumers can sign up to receive text alerts for each day’s “doorbuster,” which they can select on the Best Buy website.

Best Buy will offer doorbuster deals for big screen smart 4K TVs on Dec. 4, Dec. 12 and Dec. 18, and for a game console on Dec. 8. The website doesn’t specify brands.

Futuresource: Global 4K UHD TV Shipments to Surpass 100 Million Units in 2018

Pushed by average retail prices reaching parity with HDTV sets, annual global shipments of 4K UHD TVs are expected to surpass 100 million units in 2018, according to the latest market tracking report from Futuresource Consulting.

“The market will continue to grow with double-digit CAGR throughout our forecasting period to 2022,” said Tristan Veale, market analyst at Futuresource, in a statement. “What’s more, high dynamic range — HDR — is beginning to make its presence felt and will be included in over half of all 4K UHD TVs sold worldwide in 2018, though consumer understanding remains limited.”

The Asia Pacific region leads the way in volume, helped along by China, the largest single market for 4K UHD. North America has also seen strong uptake of 4K UHD, with rapidly declining prices and a general preference for larger screens, according to Futuresource. In Europe, the firm projects shipments will grow by 30% this year.

Global shipments of UHD Blu-ray players are expected to almost double the installed base of standalone players this year, according to Futuresource, while UHD compatible media streamer shipments will rise more than 85% year-over-year, accounting for nearly half of all media streamer shipments. Game consoles are significantly increasing the installed base of UHD Blu-ray capable homes, bolstered by consumers updating consoles and taking advantage of upgrades available for both the PlayStation and Xbox, according to Futuresource.

“When it comes to the content, SVoD remains the primary gateway for consumers to get their UHD fix,” said Veale in a statement. “Netflix is the key service driving UHD SVoD spend. Depending on the country, around 20 percent to 30 percent of subscribers have opted for the UHD premium tier.”

Physical media is growing as well, according to the firm.

“UHD Blu-ray content continues to progress ahead of the expectations of many, with global consumer spend on track to reach $360 million this year,” said Veale in a statement. “UHD Blu-ray has held onto its price premium and, as a result, consumer spend continues to outperform digital sellthrough of UHD, despite the volumes being almost identical.”

Broadcast of the format is also making strides.

“Broadcast UHD has also received a welcome boost in 2018, with February’s Winter Olympics and the FIFA World Cup accelerating many broadcasters’ plans to introduce 4K UHD coverage, making high quality streams available,” Veale said in a statement. “However, for wider uptake, a reduction in the cost to deliver UHD and HD broadcasts simultaneously is needed. IP delivery is expected to be key to this, at least in the short to medium term.”

‘Bad Times at the El Royale’ Due on Digital Dec. 18, Disc Jan. 1 From Fox

The thriller Bad Times at the El Royale will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Dec. 18 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 1 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The film earned $17.7 million in theaters.

In the film, seven strangers, each with a secret to bury, meet at Lake Tahoe’s El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one fateful night, everyone will have a last shot at redemption before everything goes to hell. Stars include Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm and Chris Hemsworth.

Bonus features on Blu-ray and DVD include “Making Bad Times at the El Royale” and a photo gallery.

‘Halloween’ to Stalk Digital Dec. 28, Disc Jan. 15 From Universal

Halloween, the latest sequel to the horror franchise, will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Dec. 28 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Jan. 15 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film earned $158.8 million in theaters.

The film takes place four decades after Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, reprising her role in the 1978 John Carpenter classic) narrowly escaped the masked Michael Myers’ brutal killing spree. She now lives in a heavily guarded home on the edge of Haddonfield, where she’s spent decades preparing for Michael’s potential return. After being locked up in an institution, Myers manages to escape when a bus transfer goes terribly wrong, leading to chaos in the same town he preyed on decades earlier. Laurie now faces a terrifying showdown when the deranged killer returns for her and her family — but this time, she’s ready for him.

The film also stars Judy Greer (Ant-Man and The WaspJurassic World), Andi Matichak (“Underground”), Will Patton (Armageddon, The Punisher) and Virginia Gardner (Project Almanac, “Runaways”).

Bonus features on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD and digital include deleted and extended scenes and the featurettes “Back in Haddonfield: Making Halloween,” “The Original Scream Queen,” “The Sound of Fear,” “Journey of the Mask” and “The Legacy of Halloween.”

The film will be available on 4K Ultra HD in a combo pack which includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray and digital. The 4K Ultra HD disc will include the same bonus features as the Blu-ray version, all in 4K resolution.

‘Night School’ in Session on Digital Dec. 11, Disc Jan 1 From Universal

The comedy Night School, starring Kevin Hart, will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Dec. 11, on demand Dec. 28, and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 1 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

A successful salesman (Hart, Jumanji, Ride Along 1 & 2) sees his life turned around after getting fired for accidentally destroying his workplace. Forced to attend night school so he can finally get his GED and find another job, he soon finds himself amongst a group of misfit students, a teacher with no patience for class clowns (Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip, Uncle Drew) and his high school nemesis-turned-principal (Taran Killam, Killing Gunther, Ted 2) who will strive to make sure he fails the course.

The 4K Ultra HD release will be available in a combo pack with Blu-ray and digital. Bonus features on 4K Ultra HD include an extended cut and gag reel. Bonus Features on Blu-ray and digital include an extended cut, an alternate opening, deleted scenes, a gag reel and several features:

  • “Night School’sin Session,” introducing the band of misfits;
  • “Who’s the Student? Who’s the Teacher?,”in which Hart and Haddish discuss their long friendship;
  • “Prom Night Revisited,” in which the cast looks back at their own high school proms;
  • “Cap ‘n Gown ‘n Giggles,” about Hart’s graduation speech turned comedy show;
  • “Making of the Dance Battle,” about the dance rehearsal for the prom night dance battle;
  • “Christian Chicken,” a never-before-seen Christian Chicken commercial;
  • “Game Over,” in which Hart joins castmates Yvonne Orji and Megalyn Echikunwoke discuss the complicated relationship between Maya and Teddy; and
  • “Extended Performance ‘El Sueno,’” an extended version of Luis’s original “El Sueno.”

Bonus features on DVD include an extended cut, alternate opening and deleted scenes.

All releases include feature commentary with director Malcom D. Lee.