4K TV comes to the Winter Olympics, but you won't be able to watch it

For the Games, Comcast (which owns NBC Universal) and NBC will show 4K highlights privately. NBC plans to limited 4K footage with the aid of Panasonic, the IOC, OBS and Sochi Organizing Committee, according to Variety.

At press and industry viewing parties, the aim is to show off 4K technology as well as demonstrate Comcast's Olympic viewing experience.

Ultra HD 4K TV NBC Universal 2014 Sochi Olympics Olympic Broadcasting Services Samsung Panasonic Panasonic GH4 Newstrack

Winter sports should look mighty cool on these screens

At an event in Philadelphia, Comcast plans to show Ultra HD Games footage on Samsung's massive 55-inch U9000 UHD curved display. In San Francisco, the cable company will display looping highlights from the Olympic opening ceremonies along with scenic Sochi vistas skating on a 65-inch flat-screen Samsung UHD TV.

Later this year, Comcast will release an Xfinity TV 4K app on Samsung UHD television sets, but the app won't be part of the Olympic viewing parties.

The uphill climb

The elephant in the room slowing Ultra HD 4K TV's growth and its support from networks is the continued success of 1080p HDTVs; a 1080p 50-inch HDTV screen can be had for roughly $600 (about £366/AUS $699) as opposed to several several thousand dollars for a 4K set.

As of August 2013, a paltry 57,000 4K TVs had been sold in the US, according to figures from the Consumer Electronics Association.

However, that number is expected to grow to 500,000 units sold in the US this year, meaning there is a fighting chance 4K coverage may be available by the time the next Olympics rolls.

For now, the Sochi Olympics will be another missed opportunity for 4K to make a major showing. A small consolation to those eagerly awaiting 4K TV's advent is that the tech won't be completely absent from the Games.

International competitions have always acted as new opportunities for new TV technologies to prove themselves, and we should hear more about UHD during the upcoming FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. Hopefully by the time these events roll around, 4K won't be relegated to private viewing parties.

  • Is 4K video all it's cracked up to be? Check out our hands on review of the Panasonic GH4!