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Taking a Flyer on 4K

An early showcase for 4K televisions isn’t relegated to just Best Buy stores and the homes of a few consumers who have enough money to splurge on the new, fancy sets. Another early adopter is the nation’s airports, where RMG Networks has begun to deploy a 4K-based distribution network that pumps news and other ad-supported video fare to a spate of private, VIP traveler lounges such as the Delta Sky Club.

RMG, a company that specializes in ad-supported digital signage and manages a network connected to more than 1 million screens at airports, malls and other public venues, has already deployed about 20 4K TV sites, and expects to add another ten to 20 by the end of the year, said Leonard Wong, RMG’s VP of technology platforms.

RMG is shipping 4K content in H.264/MPEG-4 to those screens using a cloud-based platform in tandem with standard Internet connections. And like Sony’s recently launched Video Unlimited 4K service and ODEMAX’s budding 4K movie download offering, RMG’s evolving 4K effort requires a specialized 4K-capable media player at each TV. 

But RMG’s initial foray into 4K is also confronted the same issue that the format is dealing with on the consumer end – there’s not much 4K content available to fill those screens yet.

RMG is using its network to deliver some in-house video and some ad-based content in the new, eye-popping format, but the “vast majority” of video being sent today to those 4K screens, supplied by LG, is regular HDTV, Wong said. “We’re working on offering more 4K content as it becomes available.”

So, for now, RMG effort is more of a showcase of 4K TVs, rather than 4K video. Despite a shortage of 4K content, Wong said the early results verify that RMG's platform is at least powerful enough to handle 4K cargo. So, the pipes are in place. Now they need to fill them up. 

For a look at how the 4K market is evolving in the pay-TV sector, please check out the cover story (subscription required) in the September 23 issue of Multichannel News.