Foxtel have made their first foray into the 4K era, announcing a new iQ4 set-top box and the company's first 4K channel.
Patrick Delany, Foxtel CEO, said, “Innovation is in Foxtel’s DNA and we have continuously redefined entertainment for Australia putting us at the centre of connecting subscribers with the sports and the shows they love.”
“Today’s news is just the first step into a 4K future – this incredible experience will continue to expand as we bring even more sport and entertainment programming to life in guaranteed 4K, making the most of today’s ultra-modern 4K TVs. It’s TV like never before.”
The first 4K Foxtel content will come in October via channel 444. It'll come bundled as part of the current Foxtel Platinum HD or Foxtel Sports HD subscription for customers with an iQ4.
At launch, the channel will start offer 4K sport, documentaries, concerts and more. Foxtel say that, over the next 12 months, they'll continue to expand the selection of unique 4K content to its subscribers. The company are emphasizing sports as a key advantage over the growing 4K catalogues of rivals like Netflix.
Since it relies on Foxtel's satellite and cable infrastructure, they'll also be able to offer guaranteed 4K playback to all customers, regardless of their internet connection - something that companies like Netflix and Stan can't match.
Foxtel say the channel will support HDR on limited TVs via the HLG format.
As for the Foxtel iQ4 set top box, it'll offer a fairly comparable interface to previous set-top boxes. However, the company say it'll come with a considerably beefier processor - enabling not just 4K playback but also smoother everyday usage. Further details on the costs of upgrading to an iQ4 box for existing customers have yet to be detailed.
When asked whether the company would be looking to incorporate voice functionality in their hardware offering, Delany said yes but declined to offer further details. The iQ4 and Foxtel Now streaming box don't incorporate any physical microphones. Presumably, this would involve a daisy-chaining solution akin to Panasonic's 4K Blu-Ray players.
Delany also indicated that bringing proper 4K content to Foxtel's streaming box was something the company is actively looking at - but declined to provide any sort of timeline or details.
Access to Foxtel’s 4K channel requires an iQ4 set top box, compatible HDMI cable and compatible 4K TV. Any other connected equipment must also be compatible with Foxtel’s 4K UHD Standard.The new channel will be available to Foxtel customers with Sports + HD packs starting in October 2018.
For more info see Foxtel.com.au/compatibility.