CES 2015 News Roundup: All You Need to Know From 4K UHD to Sling TV

This year’s CES was once again a whirlwind of buzz, technology, and fun gadgets – and the Las Vegas showfloor hasn’t even closed yet. In an effort to keep you in the know on everything from 4K UHD sets to new OTT streaming services to virtual reality and net neutrality, SVG has complied coverage from around the Web here. If you’re at the show or couldn’t make it out to the desert this year, here’s what you need to know about the CES happenings in Vegas.

Dish’s Sling TV Brings ESPN to Cord-Cutters
Perhaps the biggest news for sports-production industry at CES this week was Dish Network’s unveiling of Sling TV – a cord-cutter-friendly $20/month subscription service that provides access to a dozen channels, including ESPN. Until now, most sports fans have been tied to their cable/satellite/telco subscriptions in order to access the majority of lives sports, but Sling TV could prove to be a game changer by making live sports content on ESPN (as well as MLB, NBA and more on TBS and TNT) available to cord-cutting millennials.

Variety’s Todd Spangler says Sling TV won’t be the game-changer many believe. (Variety)

Fox Sports’ Clay Travis questions whether Sling TV is a big deal for ESPN and sports networks (Fox Sports)

Although Breitbart’s John Nolte agrees Sling TV will backfire, he argues this is a good thing for the consumer. (Breitbart)

CNN Money’s Brian Stelter dishes on who will be next to launch a OTT alternative to cable.  (CNN Money)

Dish Network became first pay-TV provider to launch a 4K Ultra HD set-top box – named the 4K Joey. (SVG)

More OTT Alternatives to Cable on the Way
Dish is one of several companies set to launch OTT alternatives to MVPD’s this year.

During its CES presser, Sony confirmed it is on track to launch a Playstation Vue TV streaming service in Q1 2015. The OTT service, which is already in beta-launch with 75 partner channels, will provide access to Viacom networks, CBS, Fox and NBC, among others. (Tech Radar)

Verizon Communications expects to roll out a “mobile-first” Internet pay-TV service in the second half of 2015, likely with between 20 and 30 channels, aimed at millennials not interested in a traditional cable subscription, according to CEO Lowell McAdam. (Variety)

4K UHD Displays as Far as the Eye Can See
Without question, 4K displays were the buzziest topic on the CES floor this year with CEA projecting shipments of 4K UHD displays to reach four million units in 2015 – a 208% increase over 2014. Revenue from 4K UHD displays is expect to exceed $5 billion in 2015, more than double its 2014 total (a 106% increase). (Advanced Television)

LG Electronics was first up at CES press conference day – promoting its increased commitment to OLED technology with seven new OLED sets and 34 new UHD sets that will help deliver 4K content to living rooms around the world. (SVG)

Sony rolled out four series of 4K sets, including X900C sets, which measure just 0.2 in. thick. (SVG)

Samsung looks to be in a game of one-upsmanship, unveiling Super Ultra-HD (SUHD) sets said to offer 64 times the color expression of conventional TVs. (SVG)

Panasonic, meanwhile introed four UHD TV’s of its own along with a prototype Blu-ray player capable of playing 4K content. (SVG)

Sharp is looking “Beyond 4K” as it takes the company’s Quattron technology and applies it to 4K resolution to create 66 million subpixels which is 42 million more than a standard 4K set. (SVG)

While CEA projects massive growth in shipments of 4K UHD sets, Accenture’s forecasts see the overall market shrinking slightly. The company’s Engaging the Digital Consumer in the New Connected World study, which polled 24,000 consumers in 24 countries, found that fewer people intend to purchase the “big four” consumer electronics devices – HDTVs, smartphones, tablets and laptops – than last year, while more intend to purchase wearable and smart home devices. (Accenture)

4K UHD Content Production, Distribution on the Rise
DirecTV will have two satellites serving its 4K needs across the USA, as the satellite launched in December is now operational and another will go up in May. (Advanced Television)

A multitude of media heavyweights from across the video production/distribution spectrum have joined together to form the UHD alliance in an effort to establish new standards to support innovation in 4K and higher resolutions. Members include DIRECTV, Dolby, LG Electronics Inc., Netflix, Panasonic Corporation, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Sharp Corporation, Sony Visual Product Inc., Technicolor, The Walt Disney Studios, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros. Entertainment. (SVG)

MLB Advanced Media EVP and CTO Joe Inzerillo acknowledged that 4K UHD content is gaining traction but that major challenges remain – especially on the encoding and delivery side. (Fierce Cable)

OTT Streaming Leading the Way for 4K UHD
Managed video services provider NeuLion – which boasts sports clients NFL, NHL, NBA, UFC, Rogers and CCTV – upped its 4K prowess with the acquisition of video-compression and playback software provider DivX for $62.5 million. According to NeuLION, the deal will enable both companies to address the global shift to 4K video in OTT environments. (Variety)

OTT set-top-box and smart-TV maker Roku planted itself firmly on the 4K bandwagon, announcing all future Roku boxes will support 4K. Roku is also partnering with several TV manufacturers (including Haier, Insignia, and TCL) on 4K sets embedded with Roku streaming capability. (CNBC)

Virtual Reality, Glasses-free 3D on the Way to the Home?
Samsung’s new Milk VR app for the Samsung Gear VR virtual reality headset provides users with a full 360-degree video experience. Milk VR provides Gear VR owners with free streaming and downloadable video content and promises to immerse them in a variety of virtual situations. (Digital Trends)

Among Samsung’s most notable initial Milk VR partners is the NBA, which is experimenting with the platform to offer users a front-row on the floor at the arena. Check out Fast Company’s Jason Feifer recount his first-hand experience of the NBA’s Milk VR experience. (Fast Company)

Stream TV Networks made sure that 3D TV continued to have a presence at CES, highlighting how the move to higher-resolution consumer sets (like 4K) are opening up opportunities for glasses-free–3D viewing via the company’s Ultra-D technology. (SVG)

Odds and Ends
With the vote on Net Neutrality just over a month away, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler indicated during a CES panel that he and fellow Democrats will adopt net neutrality rules that redefine broadband as a regulated, communications service. (Deadline)

PGA Tour and CBS Interactive were among several big-name partners to sign onto Google Partner Select, the company’s new programmatic service that allows marketers to buy ads in premium online video content. (WSJ)

Compiled by Jason Dachman, Brandon Costa, and Karen Hogan