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Next Big Thing: Why 4K streaming could be the future of TV

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Next Big Thing: Why 4K streaming could be the future of TV

3:23 /

2014 is shaping up to be the year of 4K content. CNET's Brian Cooley tells you about the early hubs for 4K and why it won't clog your broadband pipe.

[MUSIC] An update to 4K TV, which we talked about in our very first episode of this show back in September of 2013. Now, back then, we were talking about the 4K TVs themselves. Now, as always, the conversation turns from the gear to what you're gonna get on it, to the content. Welcome back. Well the new LG TVs will be able to watch 4K television from Netflix with a great user interface on WebOS and it's just amazing set of progress. Play. Pause. Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes on what I'm calling the reference standard for 4K. Exclusively on Amazon Prime and. Going into video is really important to Amazon right now. They've been focusing a lot on it lately, because it means bringing viewers back into their ecosystem. I don't know whether to be proud or terrified. Netflix is first out with 4K streaming. They've got their own show, House of Cards out on unlimited release to just some of their streaming clients. Is not all of them. And they're showing a variety of those kind of lush, nature porn films, which is ironic because that's how HD TV got started, too, almost 20 years ago. Samsung continues to build their Smart TV platform, which is built into their televisions and their Blu-Ray players. As a place to come to get the content. They have deals with Fox, Direct TV, Comcast, and Amazon for future 4k streaming, and of course, they'll also pull in Netflix 4k. Speaking of Amazon, that'll be the next big shoe that drops because they've commissioned at least four new series to be shot in 4k, and of course streamed that way. Look for that to coincide with the new version of their Fire TV streaming box. It'll have the ability to pull in and decode that 4K signal, and then spit it out on a cable to your 4K television. And I expect their going to tie that with a. A certain level of Prime membership, owning that box, and to be getting special access to their in-house produced shows. At this point, I bet you're cringing, thinking, wait a minute, what's all this 4k content coming out gonna do to my poor old home broadband connection? Which struggles today to deliver an HD stream. Well that's where the good news comes in from the codec side of the story. Now most of these providers with their new content are using the H.265 codec. It's related to H.264. I'm not trying to glaze your eyes over with numbers here, but that latter one is probably already on your home HD camcorder, so it's a cousin of that. The dark horse's Google VP9 Codec this of course will be used to create 4K streams coming off of YouTube, but they also got LG, Panasonic, and Sony promising to use it in their televisions as well. We don't expect those products or a lot of YouTube 4K streaming taking place until about 2015. Now, if you're wondering where the discs are in all this, so is the rest of the world. The folks that run the Blu-Ray technology say they have an extension coming that will allow the Blu-Ray format to stretch, if you will, to carry and then decode 4K content. I don't think it's gonna be a major player. We've moved too far past the physical media era. And it's clear right now the Internet can do at least a credible job of delivering 4K stream. By the way a benefit to all this codec stuff that you're not going to hear as much about is the possibility of getting near buffer-less streaming at standard HD levels, because when you apply H.265 or VP9 to what we're already looking at, it gets a lot smaller. And with the VP9 codec in particular Google says it could be instant start for standard HD not too far in the future. That'd be nice.

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