Good news just in for purveyors of high-resolution videos: The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) has revealed it will begin licensing the new Ultra HD Blu-ray format from August 24, 2015.
Today’s news comes almost three months after the BDA issued the final specification for the new 4K physical-format media, revealing it would encompass 3,840 x 2,160 pixel resolution, provide high frame rate (up to 60fps), and cater for 66GB double-layer or 100GB triple-layer discs. That’s more than double that of the existing Blu-ray specification.
The new Ultra HD format comes almost ten years after the first Blu-ray discs went to market, but the video entertainment landscape has changed considerably since then. Streaming via the likes of Netflix, Amazon, Google, Hulu, and countless others has become the norm, and some of these services are now catering for 4K content too.
However, bandwidth congestion — including the associated network costs — may preclude many consumers from considering Ultra HD streaming. And this could make Ultra HD Blu-ray a more compelling proposition for some.
Of course, you will need to buy an Ultra HD Blu-ray machine to play the new format — some of the major manufacturers are expected to announce players later this year — and there’s the added expense of acquiring an Ultra HD TV (if you don’t already have one). The good news is that the new Ultra HD Blu-ray players will also be backwards compatible with normal Blu-ray discs, so you won’t have to update your entire movie collection.
While it’s not clear how much demand there will be for the new format, the BDA, citing data from IHS technology, reckons Ultra HD TV-owning households will grow from 11.7 million last year to 95.6 million by 2019.
With licensing opening in less than three weeks, the BDA says it anticipates product announcements shortly after — certainly well in time for Christmas.
“Ultra HD Blu-ray enables the delivery of an unparalleled, consistent, and repeatable experience that will set the standard for Ultra HD entertainment, the same way Blu-ray Disc did for high-definition viewing,” explained Victor Matsuda, chair of the BDA Promotions Committee, in a press release. “With the commencement of licensing we would anticipate product announcements from various companies as we approach the 2015 holiday season.”