Anime in 3840×2160 “2160p” UHDTV resolutions should be available by the summer of 2014, as the Japanese government is pressing for the rollout of 4K UHDTV 2 years ahead of schedule in an effort to save the TV industry from collapse.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications had formerly intended to introduce the next generation of HDTV in 2016, but has announced it will be bringing this goal forward 2 years to July 2014, to hopefully coincide with the World Cup in Brazil.
The “Ultra Hi-Vision” 2160p broadcasts will start on Japan’s “BS” and “CS” satellite channels, to be later expanded to terrestrial digital TV.
It is expected that Japan will be one of the first (if not the first) nation to introduce UHDTV, although the huge bandwidth required may mean a lengthy period of spectrum shuffling on satellite and terrestrial frequencies will be required before all channels are available.
Previously NHK had been indicating it would rather switch straight to “8K” UHD (4320p, or 7680*4320) due to the enormous cost and complexity involved with upgrading TV broadcast and receiving infrastructure twice rather than once.
According to industry figures, Japanese TV sales for 2012 were down an eye-watering 66%, and with “3D” stereoscopic TV having proved an unwanted gimmick and ever larger screens unable to sustain sales (and probably unable to fit in an increasing number of Japanese homes), it would seem the next generation of HD is the only way sales can be revived.
Certainly it looks likely that if forced to wait until 2016 for any upgrades there would not be much left of Japan’s TV industry, which is already being eviscerated by competition from lower cost producers in the rest of East Asia, making the new standard an abject necessity from this perspective.
It has also been noted that with the CAS encryption system underpinning most of Japan’s satellite broadcasts irreversibly cracked last year, the TV broadcast industry has a strong interest in pushing for a new broadcast system (its only other recourse is reissuing every CAS card in existence) – as does the video game industry, which is going to have difficulty offering much in the way of graphical improvements if it is stuck on pathetically low TV resolutions.
However, none of this addresses the reasons fewer Japanese are watching TV in the first place, something generally blamed on the atrocious quality of mainstream TV, which will presumably remain unchanged even in UHDTV.
There are mixed opinions of the announcement online – unsurprisingly considering the Internet is probably responsible for much of the declining interest in TV in Japan and elsewhere:
“Poor Sky Tree!”
“You’d think they’d be more concerned about increasing the awful quality of their programming than the resolution.”
“That is the big problem…”
“What is the point of such high resolution? Sports and nature documentaries? They can’t use it on variety shows and the drama shows look bad enough in HDTV…”
“As long as there is anime on terrestrial TV who cares about this.”
“For anime they are deliberately lowering the quality of TV broadcasts to promote disc sales so it hardly matters.”
“They need to go and beg the forgiveness of all the suckers who bought 3D TVs…”
“Expect a new standard every 3 years from here on.”
“8K is already an international standard so 4K is really just a transient standard, with 8K the main event later.”
“This is just business. Without a new format nobody has any reason to buy new TVs now, so the makers will never survive without it. Not that I’ll be buying one.”
“I think this won’t pan out as well as they hope. Before it was flat, thin digital TVs driving the upgrades, not just resolution. A new tuner could suffice for most now.”
“People are still renting DVDs so I wonder about this.”
“Will bad skin suddenly start looking good at a resolution 4 times higher, I wonder?”
“This sort of progress is simply to be expected of a high tech nation.”
“Great, now we can see each individual pore of our crappy celebrities.”
“All the lengths those poor actresses will have to go to to tidy up their skin now…”
“Even normal HDTV has eliminated a lot of actresses who don’t look good enough – how many will 4K do for?”
“The spread of this tech just depends on them making lots of porn available in it.”