TV Broadcasters Say 1080p HDR Matters More than 4K

ATSC 3.0 Will Bring 1080P HDR

In an article by The Hollywood Reporter that’s based on comments made by a panel of broadcasters at Wednesday’s HPA (Hollywood Professional Association) Tech Retreat in Palm Springs, the message from broadcasters is that 1080p HDR is coming to a broadcast TV when ATSC 3.0—the next generation of broadcast standards—is implemented.

According to the piece by Carolina Giardina, Fox Networks is optimistic about the prospects of HDR, and Richard Friedel, the executive VP and general manager of engineering & operations at Fox Networks, said, “When we launch ATSC 3.0, you’ll see HDR.”

Fox was joined by the likes of PBS, Cox Media Group, and Sinclair Broadcast Group in feeling optimistic about HDR. Apparently, broadcasters can accommodate up to 1080p HDR without having to overhaul their equipment infrastructure—unlike a move to 4K resolution.

CBS wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as the other networks when it came to promising that HDR broadcasts are on the way. The VP of engineering and advanced technology at CBS said that the network was studying and testing HDR but demurred on committing to its implementation.

Based on typical TV screen sizes and viewing distances, in many instances it is true that 1080p HDR will have a bigger impact than a move to 4K SDR. Many professional digital cameras already capture enough dynamic range to produce a HDR image, and if it’s really true that the broadcast infrastructure is there to support it, there would appear to be little barrier to making HDR mainstream.

ATSC 3.0, which was created by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (the folks who brought you ATSC 1.0 and made HDTV happen), has yet to be implemented. So, all this talk is currently hypothetical. But it certainly points to a near future where HDR potentially overtakes 4K resolution as the primary picture-quality selling point for new TVs.