New Distribution Channels Open for 4K

Consumer adoption of 4K hasn’t reached massive levels yet, but an independent distributor of movies and TV shows is already ahead of the curve when it comes to delivering pixel-packed content through physical and digital media.

Hollywood-based Mance Media has stepped up this trend by offering a batch of 4K titles through the emerging BitTorrent Bundles platform and launching a unit that will sell and distribute movies in the new format on USB sticks that won’t require use of a broadband connection.


On the physical side of the equation, Mance Media’s new standalone company, BUY4KUHD, launched last Thursday (March 26) and is selling 4K movies and documentaries on USB 3.0 thumb drives that hold about 8 Gigabytes of data and connect directly to Ultra HD TVs. USB 3.0, sometimes called “SuperSpeed USB,” can transfer data rates at up to 5 Gigabits per second — fast enough to handle massive data files. Under Mance Media’s approach, it will use H.265/High Efficiency Video Coding to pack a movie into a file of roughly 3 Gigabytes in size on the USB thumb drive.

Early on, Mance Media will sell almost a dozen titles via BUY4KUHD: Timescapes, Sojourns, The Toy Soldiers, Scarlet’s Witch, Listen, Circles of Life, Dragons: Real Myths and Unreal Creatures and SPIKE: The Mind of a Warrior. Titles sell from $11.99 to $29.

Mance Media will initially sell preloaded thumb drives globally via its standalone site, but is in talks with “major retailers” about selling them alongside Ultra HD TVs, according to company CEO Matthew Mancinelli.

He said the new USB-based thumb drives could coexist with coming 4K-capable Blu-ray technology while also providing a more compact form factor than some of the specialized 4K players that are now being distributed by TV makers.

On the digital front, Mance Media also announced it had begun to sell several films in 4K via BitTorrent Bundle, a global platform that enables content owners to upload their content and offer it as they see fit.

Under that model, consumers can obtain the 4K trailers for free, and pay between $5 to $6 to unlock the full-length title in 5.1 surround sound as well as a high-resolution digital version of the movie’s official poster. With help again from HEVC compression, Mance Media estimates it can deliver a 90-minute movie in 4K in 3GB without sacrificing video quality.


That’s a far cry from BitTorrrent’s initial 4K distribution of Super-organism from Mickey Hart, the former Grateful Dead drummer, which was delivered in 2013 as a largely uncompressed 286 Gigabyte torrent.

The work with BitTorrent Bundle “is groundbreaking in terms of distribution,” Mancinelli said.

Mance Media’s other announced 4K distribution partners include M-GO, Sony, Amazon, and Dish Network, which will offer content in the new format via the 4K Ultra HD Joey, a device that’s slated to become available this summer.

Just 1% of U.S. homes had a 4K set in 2014, a figure that is expected to climb to nearly 50% by 2020, according to a forecast from Strategy Analytics.


The percentage of unique IP addresses worldwide connected to Akamai’s content delivery network that’s considered “4Kready,” defined as being capable of providing speeds of 15 Mbps or more. About 18% of U.S. connections are 4K-ready, Akamai found.

SOURCE: Akamai, Q4 2014 State of the Internet Report