LAS VEGAS – Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest maker of TVs, said Monday that it is tackling the problem of getting ultra-high-definition content to its new TV sets by teaming up with the Internet streaming services of Comcast, Netflix and Amazon.
Like other TV makers, Samsung is betting that a quadrupling of the resolution of TV sets will get consumers interested in upgrading their existing, high-definition sets. The problem is that cable TV services and Blu-ray discs don't support the bump in resolution, leaving the ultra-sharp sets without ultra-sharp content.
At a news conference at the International CES gadget show in Las Vegas, Samsung said it would get UHD content through partnerships with U.S. streaming services, bypassing traditional cable and disc delivery. Under its partnership with Comcast Corp., the country's largest cable company, Samsung TVs would get UHD content through an app running on the Internet-connected TV, bypassing Comcast's set-top boxes.
Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the movie studio and creator of TV shows, giving it direct access to content shot in UHD, which is also known as 4K. Similarly, Netflix Inc., the largest provider of paid streaming video, shot its own "House of Cards" show in 4K and has already said it will supply it in that format to TVs from LG Electronics, Samsung's competitor.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings showed up at Sony's news conference later in the day to say the streaming company was also working to deliver UHD video to Sony's Bravia line of 4K sets. Hastings said UHD signals could be streamed if one has download speeds of at least 15 Megabits per second, a speed that is readily available to average households. He said streaming would even work over a Wi-Fi connection.
Still, Internet delivery of UHD movies will place high demands on home broadband connections. As an alternative, Samsung will sell a UHD Video Pack – a hard drive loaded with movies that can be connected to its TV sets. Sony Corp. already sells a similar box for its UHD sets.
Samsung's UHD sets cost $3,000 and up. Sony didn't immediately give prices for its latest UHD lineup.