Academy blog

Hot to Watch in 2017: 4K Video

Of the many developments we’ve witnessed over the past few years, one is uniquely poised to transform online video in 2017, and that’s 4K video, AKA Ultra-High Definition. “Hey, wait a minute”, one may say, “I’m just getting used to high definition, what’s all this talk of 4K about?”. Never fear, the folks here at NPAW are experts in everything video, 4K included.

What is 4K video?

The best resolution offered by conventional high definition currently stands at 1080p. As the folks at PC Mag explain, this means the selected content adjusts to a screen of 1,920 pixels by 1,080 pixels (a whopping 2,073,600 pixels in area!) which is a stunning amount of detail in its own right… until 4K “Ultra-High Definition” came around, which has a resolution DOUBLE what conventional HD was capable of. That means videos of extra-high quality focus and rendition for a superior cinema quality experience. But as Nick Colsey, VP of Business Development at Sony Electronics, said at Streaming Media East back in May, “4K gives you more colors and an increasingly high dynamic range. Most [Sony] TVs since last year support high dynamic range, which in a nutshell is the difference between looking at a TV screen and looking out of the window. If you’re looking out of the window, you see these really bright lights, and huge range of light to dark, and all the shades in between. High dynamic range TV is able to deliver that.”

Are we already awash in the 4K wave?

It depends on where you’re located, but the short answer is “yes.” In the United States, where 4K has been available for sometime with limited adoption, content waited to match display. So although there were perfectly good 4K television sets, there wasn’t much 4K content to play on them. But now that’s changed, consumer awareness of 4K is over 50% according to Fortune Magazine, and Sony predicted 15% of US homes had 4K capable television at the close of 2016. Content, in the form of blu-ray discs has started to match demand, but more importantly is the role streaming will play with these new devices (more on that later).

For a better glimpse into what the future of 4K looks like turn your attention to European nations for an example. Here advanced content distribution strategies and the benefits of cheaper 4K televisions helped some content distributors like BT Group of Great Britain and N34 of Germany initiate the production and distribution of a wider variety of 4K content.

Broadband and Bandwidth Bottlenecks

So what’s the catch? It seems like 4K has been on the market a while now, and it’s just gaining popularity? Well, consider this. The way we consume video has been in flux for the past few years as the online video revolution consumes TV as we know it. As Cisco reported in their State of Video white paper, IP video traffic will consume 82% of all internet traffic by 2020. In that same white paper, they forecast a doubling of broadband speeds to 47.7 Mbps by 2020 (as compared to 24.7 Mbps in 2015). Because streamed video is the future of video, in order for 4K to make an impact it depends on providers like Netflix and Amazon Prime to deliver 4K content, which is no easy task. If the internet is a superhighway already congested with trucks and cars, 4K video is the equivalent of adding thousands of tractor-trailers without the proper infrastructure to handle them. To put things in perspective, internet speeds in Germany, home to some pioneers in 4K adoption, “…are not suitable for live 4K streaming and this is a major problem,” according to Michael Sichler of

But all that is changing. As infrastructure improves, expect more and more titles streamed in 4K (Netflix, for example offers successful programs like Breaking Bad, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, in that format already, Youtube as well) and it won’t be long before 4K is as common, and as standard as HD is today.

The Bottom Line

Adopting 4K is just another way to improve the playback experience of users. However, investments in delivering a higher resolution playback can be undermined if the overall playback experience is riddled with high buffering ratios, lagging, long join times, among other disturbances which turn audiences away. Fortunately, this problem is manageable. The new YOUBORA 2.0, the latest incarnation of NPAW’s award winning YOUBORA analytics platform, sets the standard for business intelligence solutions for the online video industry to help you better understand how your audience behaves and your platform performs, to improve performance and maximize revenue. The new wide array of new metrics, dimensions, as well as real time unlimited multi-dimensional filtering abilities work together to provide incomparable control, visibility, and flexibility to content providers. YOUBORA 2.0 helps content providers to proactively define their business strategy to garner greater customer retention, increase ad and content efficiency, optimize operational processes and overcome technical challenges.  

Are you a content provider interested in revolutionizing your content delivery experience? Click here to request a demo, courtesy of one of our Online Video Business Intelligence and Analytics Experts.

Just another thing to think about from us here at NPAW.


Image courtesy of Shutterstock

James Noeker on January 12th 2017

Most Recent Posts

Introducing the YOUBORA Mobile App

As the streaming market matures and user expectations surge, the ability to immediately detect issues and share up-to-date reports across an organization is becoming an essential part of the day-to-day work lives of video industry professionals. In response, NPAW has launched the YOUBORA mobile app,... 

10 Jun

How to Weigh the Impact of Offline Downloads on your Streaming Service

As streaming becomes an ever-more established behavioral trend globally, online video providers are faced with a double-edged sword. Demand for online video is higher than ever, but so too is competition for space in consumers’ viewing habits. User expectations are on the rise and, as it is easier... 

3 Jun

How COVID-19 is Changing Online Streaming Behavior Globally

The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus is drastically changing user behavioral patterns worldwide. As the virus spreads, streaming video providers must contend with sudden changes in variables including rising economic pressures, altered routines, moods, and priorities. We have gathered together a series... 

27 Mar