New 4K channel hints that Sky's Ultra HD service is close

SES Astra is proving it's possible

There have been a lot of rumours that Sky will launch its 4K service sometime this year, and now to add some fuel on that fire, SES Astra, the company that runs the satellites Sky uses for its service, has launched a 4K demo channel.

This obviously doesn't prove anything in itself, but the service will be broadcast from Astra 2E which is one of the satellites used by Sky in the UK. The demo service has already been airing on Astra's 19.2 degree service, which serves most of mainland Europe.

Astra isn't the only satellite company trying UHD services. Eutelsat is broadcasting a channel that shows 50p 4K content with 10bit colour on Hot Bird. The only other way consumers can currently see 4K is via Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. There still isn't a formal Blu-ray standard yet, and players will be unlikely to arrive much before the end of the year.

Even so, there is plenty of content coming. Older movies are constantly being remastered and converted to 4K, so there is an archive already growing. Sports will almost certainly be one of the drivers for an UHD service, and there's no doubt Sky will be looking for extra ways to pay for its expensive football rights.

Sky is still refusing to announce its plans

Sky still won't say if it has a 4K service arriving soon, in spite of its newly-acquired German service admitting that it will launch a UHD channel later this year.

While that doesn't definitively prove that Sky UK will, it does at least mean there will be content coming from Europe - like football - already in the format.

There is currently a huge amount of debate around 4K standards, like colourspace and copy protection. Until those issues are resolved, we might not get a Sky service in the UK at all.

Via IPTV News