Back in March, the whole of Australia watched Cameron Bancroft rough up a cricket ball during the South African ball-tampering fiasco. A nation squinted to see its shame in standard definition.
Imagine if you could have seen that catastrophe play out in stunning Ultra HD!
Now, 4K Cricket (and 4K NRL, movies, documentaries and concerts) is coming to Australia with Foxtel 4K.
From October, Foxtel will offer a standalone channel, Channel 444, airing 4K Ultra HD content all day, everyday. The company is promising a selection of 4K movies, plus documentaries, music and concerts -- we spied the Rolling Stones at the demo in all their wrinkly 4K glory. And yes, there's also flagship sport. That includes the Australia vs South Africa One Day International, kicking off on Nov. 4.
To tie in with the new 4K channel, Foxtel is also launching the 4K-capable IQ4 set-top box. It's billing the IQ4 as the "muscle car of set top boxes," thanks to a new chipset offering increased processing power, better graphics and 5.1 surround sound. Foxtel says every set-top box sold from Aug. 14 will be a new 4K-capable IQ4, but it is also promising an upgrade for the IQ3 (thanks to software updates), giving those customers the same features, minus the 4K experience.
The key details
- Channel 444 launches in October with 4K Cricket from Nov. 4
- Available to Foxtel satellite customers
- 4K-capable IQ4 box available from Aug. 14
- Available to customers on Foxtel Platinum HD or Foxtel Sports HD packages
- Foxtel hasn't released pricing, but Channel 444 will be free to any customer on a HD package with Sport (and higher tiers)
The pay TV provider has billed itself as the premium home of Australian TV, but until now, that premium experience has lacked premium definition viewing. While rivals Netflix has offered 4K since it launched in Australia in 2015 and Stan has offered 4K since 2017, Foxtel is justifying its late arrival by promising "guaranteed delivery" across Australia, thanks to a "big fat satellite signal."
"They [Netflix and Stan] have had 4K options in their service," said Foxtel CEO Patrick Delaney. "Whether consumers get that 4K over the internet is another issue. Secondly, the pickings are very thin and thirdly, they never get live sport and live material."
While the slate of launch programming might also start small, Foxtel says it will be investing in deals with rights holders to get quality content on Channel 444. And that includes watching every ball, every over and every cheating incident in Australian cricket.