80 years of high-definition television

02 Nov 2016

Television tower at Alexandra Place in 1936

Television tower at Alexandra Palace in 1936

Today marks 80 years since the BBC began the world’s first regular high-definition television service. This was a far cry from what we call HD today - in 1936 it was an increase from 30 TV lines, to 240, which was the old measure of such resolution. Today’s variety of specifications, from HD, to UHD, 4K and even 8K reflect not only the rate of change but the choice available to us.

And through so much change, TV has remained at the center of our content consumption. The Video Advertising Bureau just released findings that TV still commands 89% of viewing time, demonstrating that even with the penetration of mobile and tablet devices, many still gather around a TV to be entertained and informed.

From here, the future looks bright (which we say without a sense of irony given the promise of things such as HDR). Not only are the screens getting better, but access to so much great, high quality, content has never been better. TV budgets are now rivaling that of movies, with HBO’s latest offering, Westworld reportedly costing $US100m for the first season, and $US25m for the pilot. Netflix, which is not a TV network in the traditional sense and just shy of 20 years old, will reportedly spend billions on original content in the next year.

For ARRIS, it’s all about delivery of that content and onto the screens in the way it was intended by the producers. The viewer needs to see the effects laboriously pored over without pixelation; to experience a heartfelt monologue delivered without interruption by buffer; and have the next episode load before their significant other has time to say “Haven’t we watched enough episodes tonight?” To achieve this, consumers need the right devices in their home, distributing a fast and reliable service on behalf of the operator. Otherwise, they’ll just switch off.

Here’s to 80 years of high-definition television, and to many more.

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