XBIZ Poll: Will 4K Ultra HD Format Impact Porn?

Jan 10, 2014 1:00 PM PST

LOS ANGELES — The 4K Ultra HD TV format has a lot to offer: The format has four times as many pixels as standard HD and, when shown on larger screens that measure 60 or more inches diagonally, images appear almost lifelike.

But will adult entertainment fans be captivated by the stunning clarity of the format, and are Porn Valley's studios ready to commit to it?

According to a recent XBIZ Poll, 44 percent believe the format won't impact the industry and spur more porn consumption and 39 percent say it is too early to tell. Meanwhile, 18 percent polled say the arrival of 4K Ultra HD won't revitalize the business.

The results were based on votes submitted by 157 members of XBIZ.net social network over the question, "How will 4K Ultra HD impact porn?"

Peter Acworth, who operates Kink.com as founder and CEO, told XBIZ that his studio hasn't made any commitments to the format and is watching how the market  reacts to it.

"I think the industry will take a wait-and-see approach to 4K, just like we have been doing with 3D," he said. "At Kink.com we're only just now in the process of back-encoding all our movies at 1080p.

"Given the significant overhead of 4K — more powerful editing stations, more costly storage, bandwidth costs, etc. — I can't see us shooting in 4K soon."

But while some porn producers are waiting on the sidelines, others are curious about the promises of the format and are offering it or considering to offer it.

Christian Mann, adult entertainment studio Evil Angel's general manager, says his studio has been closely following the evolution of 4K and consumer interest.

"John Stagliano says it's the future and it will look better on big screens," Mann told XBIZ.

Early consumer adoption of the format, according to research firm NPD DisplaySearch, is moving forward at a fairly brisk pace. Shipments of 4K TVs is set to jump from 1.9 million in 2013 to 12.7 million in 2014.

And more content — mainstream and adult — is starting to trickle in for 4K.

Major movie studios are working with Amazon.com to stock up on 4K content, and Comcast is working with Samsung to up its 4K streaming offerings for those who have Samsung 4K TVs and Xfinity TV.

On the adult side, a number of distributors — DominicFord.com, Jay Allan Productions and Huccio.com — offer some content shot in 4K.

Dominic Ford told XBIZ that he's bullish on 4K, as well as most technology that raises the bar. 

His studio was the first gay porn company to film exclusively in 3D, and the first to release 4K content.

"Just as people were reticent to move from SD to HD — and some people still shoot in SD — it will be even tougher to get people to move to 4K," he said. "When HD came around, the industry was still printing money. Now times are different, and a jump to 4K can be an expensive one, and comes with its own learning curve and equipment. Added to the expense will be the large bandwidth it takes to deliver 4K content. Our 4K scenes are 4 to 5 gigabytes each.

"But, just as people don't want to watch content in standard definition now, HD content will look 'old' once 4K is used in television production, and movies are streamed in 4K via Netflix.”

Just today at CES, Netflix showed off streaming in 4K that dazzled attendees. Netflix announced that its new app, along with chips that decode signals from the HEVC (high-efficiency video coding) standard, will work for buyers of new 4K sets from Sony, LG, Samsung, Vizio and others upon purchase.

"I predict 4K will take at least three more years to catch on, mainly due to the issues surrounding content delivery and not the display technology itself," Ford said. "Having said that, we are already seeing a lot of interest in the 4K content we've already produced, and our customers write in to tell us they bought a 4K TV, and are excited that someone has content for it."

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