FIFA World Cup in Ultra HD Is a Goal Beyond U.S. Reach

The United States isn’t expected to win the FIFA World Cup now underway in Brazil (even the team’s coach, Jürgen Klinsmann, has said he doesn’t believe the squad stands much of a chance), and this country’s viewers are clearly losing the 4KTV game.

In fact, the U.S. looks to be shut out of the live Ultra HD action, while a few lucky football fans in other countries, including Brazil and Japan, will get to see as many as three World Cup fixtures in the glorious 4K format that Sony is producing via its relationship with the almighty FIFA.

The BBC, too, will stream three matches in 4K via a trial limited to a small batch of TVs at BBC facilities in the U.K.

Some U.S. vendors are getting into the mix, though. Brazil’s Globosat is using encoders from Elemental Technologies and decoders from Broadcom to deliver its live World Cup coverage via satellite to a smattering of pay TV partners. So there’s that.

For now, live 4K remains largely an experiment as the underlying production and distribution ecosystem evolves, offering a way to showcase the eye-popping format at viewing parties and small, private gatherings. Recall that Comcast’s big 4K demo around this year’s Sochi Olympics wasn’t live — it used prerecorded clips of NBC coverage.

It’s understandable that ESPN and Univision, the U.S. rightsholders to televise the soccer extravaganza, won’t transmit any World Cup games in Ultra HD. And it’s also hard to blame them. Only a minuscule number of TVs would be able to see it — this March was the first time monthly global shipments of pricey 4K panels eclipsed the 1 million mark, according to IHS Technology.

And we can forgive ESPN — which shut down its ambitious 3D network last year, after using the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as its 3DTV coming-out party — for being a bit gun-shy about going big on Ultra HD this time around.

These days, ESPN is using 4K in a more limited way — to capture the entire field of play and zoom in for replays. And that’s only for some sporting events. ESPN notes that the official World Cup feed is offering 4K, and a spokesperson tells The Wire, “We might make use of it if we feel it can enhance our programming, but we don’t have specific plans at this point.”

A pity, as the beautiful game will certainly look even prettier in 4K, a format that touts four times the resolution of HD — supplying not just more pixels, but better pixels, thanks to Ultra HD’s deeper palette of colors.

Maybe in 2018.

‘Last Ship’ Promo Offers Hand Sanity To N.Y. Commuters

While The Last Ship centers on the crew of a U.S. Navy destroyer trying to save the world from a pandemic virus, TNT and Purell are going underground in New York to create buzz for the new Michael Bay action series.

Beginning today (June 16), the network is taking over Manhattan’s Grand Central subway station with billboards that have Purell dispensers attached.

Featuring such copy as “The Virus isn’t the only enemy,” “80% of the world is dead” and “Whatever you do, don’t breathe,” the dispenser-equipped billboards will line corridors in multiple locations in the bustling subterranean hub. From these sanitation stations of sorts, passers-by can clean their hands with Purell.

“People are very interested in the notion of a pandemic,” Tricia Melton, senior vice president of entertainment marketing and branding for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies, said of the show premiering on June 22 at 9 p.m. “The Last Ship is not a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by zombies or aliens. The feedback from from our research company is that people feel that this is realistic, that it will play on their fears and hopes for survival.”

As to Purell’s marketing position with the campaign, Melton noted: “Sanitize and survive. Grand Central is certainly a crowded place.”

TNT also will have branded Last Ship street teams in place to hand out Purell samples June 20-21.

TNT and the Gojo Industries brand worked with marketing agency mono on the Grand Central activation.

— Mike Reynolds

When News Breaks, Multiplatform Is The New Normal

The school shooting in Troutdale, Ore., last Tuesday (June 10) was a study in the collaboration and combination of media — cable, broadcasting, mobile, Web, social — that has become the currency of news reporting in the digital age.

As is frequently the case, CNN’s cable news coverage of the breaking story tapped into its affiliate network of local broadcast-TV stations for live coverage from the scene.

In this case, KGW-TV Portland was interviewing Craig Tuholski, father of one of the students at the school, when Tuholksi’s mobile phone rang. It was his son, Chris, saying he was safe. “That’s what we were waiting for,” the relieved dad said.

And how did CNN first get tipped off about the shooting? Twitter, the cable news outlet said in its Web version of the shooting story.

— John Eggerton