The Story Behind the Buzz About 4K TV

Manufacturers and content providers are working together to overcome the chicken-and-egg problem of 4K TV.

Feb 10, 2014 at 4:00PM

Content providers including Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), YouTube, and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) are ready to take the plunge, offering programming for the new ultra-high definition 4K TVs from the likes of Sony (NYSE:SNE) and Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) -- for now, at price points that will appeal only to the early adopter crowd.

On the scene at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Foolish tech and entertainment analyst Tim Beyers got an up-close look at some of the newest sets and was on hand at Samsung's press conference where director Michael Bay, in the midst of what was to be an endorsement of the new Samsung 4K TV, walked off stage. He joins Rex Moore to dissect the buzz around 4K television.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Rex Moore: Sticking with TV, the big buzzword last year was 4K television -- probably even before that -- but where are we now with ultra-high definition, or 4K, television?

Tim Beyers: We have a lot more of it coming, and I think we can thank Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon for some of this, because Netflix in particular is going to have season two of House of Cards completely broadcast in 4K, and that's a new thing.

You need to have the content to make the 4K TV worthwhile and we know, here at CES, we had Samsung and Sony introduce new 4K TVs. In the unfortunate case with Samsung, they were going to have director Michael Bay, of Transformers fame -- frankly, we all thought it was a joke! -- but he came out onstage and he was going to do a big endorsement for the new 105" UltraHD Samsung curved display... and he flubbed the lines.

Moore: Yes, he did.

Beyers: He just walked right offstage. To their credit, Samsung said, "Well, it's Vegas, it's a live show..."

Moore: I'll tell you what, they probably got 10 times more publicity out of that than if that had not happened.

Beyers: Yes, and that's what some people are saying. Although the downside of that is that you don't know what else Samsung introduced; it overshadowed everything.

But, yes, you're right. Now, 4K is in the headlines -- partially because of this flub -- but also because there is so much content now that's starting to come and be ready for 4K. It's not just Netflix; we're talking about YouTube, Amazon is going to shoot all of its originals in 4K, so we'll see.

If enough content is there, consumers... I'm not ready to spend $3,000 on a 4K TV.

Moore: Neither am I. That is still one thing -- I think we're not there yet.

Beyers: Right.

Moore: Early adopters may be hopping in, but it's not ready for the masses yet.

Beyers: No, I don't think so. When you're looking at $3,000-$4,000 price points, it is truly for the early adopters. But there are some big names getting behind it, so it's an area to watch.

How to be a rich couch potato
Of course you love TV and you know cable's going away. Disruptive programming models virtually assure its demise. But do you know how to profit from the upheaval? There's $2.2 trillion out there to be had. Currently, cable grabs a big piece of it. That won't last. And when cable falters, three companies are poised to benefit. Click here for their names. Hint: They're not Netflix, Google, and Apple.

 

Rex Moore owns shares of Google. Tim Beyers owns shares of Apple, Google, and Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Amazon.com, Apple, Google, and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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