While experts are still debating over the feasibility of 4K TVs, the on-demand video platform Rakuten TV has announced the plans to launch the world's first 8K platform in the second half of 2019!
The plans came to light recently when founder and CEO of the new Spanish-based streaming platform, Jacinto Roca, was speaking to Variety on the occasion of launching their service across 30 new territories in Europe. Roca was sharing his views on their future plans after his company Wuaki was acquired by Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten to challenge the big players like Netflix and Amazon.
Taking Amazon and Netflix head-on, Roca commented that they were working with manufacturers and content providers to offer movies in 8K. They are currently working on the project which could become a reality and reach the consumers before the year is over.
Rakuten Bashes the Opinions of Industry Experts
Pundits in the AV industry have contested that 8K content would take years to become a mainstream affair at a time when we are just getting our hands on limited 4K content. They have used their supposition to question the viability of 8K TVs, citing the lack of content in the market.
But Roca's comment shows that the AV industry is ready to take on the challenges of 8K, and could soon make 8K TVs a common thing across living rooms!
Rakuten is partnering with smart TV manufacturers like Philips, Samsung, LG and Hisense to feature a dedicated button to their remotes for the service. Viewers can use the button to get access to Ratuken video-on-demand platform and rent or watch movies in 8K.
Roca said that his company is taking a major step with the plans of expansion and they want to make Ratuken TV the preferred choice of entertainment for smart TV owners.
He also added that the dedicated button on the remote controls empower the users and allow them to access the best movies in finest quality with a single click- which is bound to increase their viewers. The partnership with premium TV manufacturers is a guarantee of quality of providing the best service to their users across Europe.
Ratuken TV has assured the TV manufacturers that if they can build it, someone is going to fill in the gap. You can expect no shortage of content for state-of-the-art TV display hardware which are now hitting the market.
Sony has announced two 8K TVs for this year, while Samsung is going to come out with its second generation of 8K TVs. LG is also expected to launch 8K OLED TV and LCD TVs.
Can Ratuken TV be the Next Big Thing in 8K?
Before you get too excited about Ratuken's 8K plans, you should understand that it may take a while for the company to add considerable 8K titles to their database.
Only a few films have been made in 8K, one major work being 2001: A Space Odyssey. Japan's NHK launched its broadcasting service with the movie. Lawrence Of Arabia might have also mastered in 8K when the 4K version was created.
Mortal Engines mostly used 8K while shooting though it got a 4K digital intermediate. Captain Marvel also featured some 8K scenes, there's no news on the final 8K mastering.
So it looks like Ratuken has some hard work on its way and could take a while before you can start renting or watching 8K titles on a spree!
Another point in consideration is whether the first lot of 8K TVs will support the 8K format or compression delivered by Ratuken TV. We could face a similar issue as with Samsung 8K TVs, which doesn't support 8K videos on Youtube.
Roca's comment that they are working with TV manufacturers and content providers offer some assurance that we might not face such troubles. He has also explicitly mentioned Samsung in his interview so we can speculate the next generation of Samsung TVs to support Ratuken.
You will also have to consider the nature of broadband speed you would need to stream the 8K titles- which can be quite a lot! Connectivity issues can really make a blow to the number of subscribers they get.
Ratuken has just announced their expansion plans in Europe, but still, they are not available in the US. The company plans to challenge Amazon and Netflix in the domain of video streaming, but it is just still starting out. Netflix has already produced an 8K title of their own, Lost In Space, and could add more shows on their list.
So it won't be wise to say that Ratuken is the next big disruption in 8K- it is more of a marketing stance than posing as serious competition. The platform has said that it plans to create its own original content and Roca has promised more expansions in the coming months and years.
So we can at least expect other players to join the industry and provide 8K TVs with a strong backbone with their content.
The Pricing of 8K Titles
Ratuken currently claims to be the biggest UHD 4K catalog and rents 4K films for £4.99 and sells them for £13.99. The platform is based on renting and purchasing, instead of following Netflix or Amazon's approach of all-you-can-consume monthly subscription fees.
Ratuken charges increase based on resolution- you have to pay more to watch a 4K title than an HD title. So we can expect 8K content to have a higher price even than 4K which can raise questions of affordability.
We will have to keep our eyes on the developments and see whether a new kid on the block like Ratuken TV can really emerge as a global player. More on that later as it happens!