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Ultra HD Content Picture Gets Clearer

LAS VEGAS – Although the focus of International CES may have been on new big-screen Ultra HD TVs of various flavors, an important related development was the push to grow the base of native Ultra HD content.

Television manufacturers including Samsung, Sony and LG partnered with streaming-video providers to boost the amount of Ultra HD video content available to consumers.

At International CES, Samsung announced its first Ultra HD Smart Hub multimedia service, which will provide 4K content from media/distributor partners including Amazon, Netflix, Comcast’s Xfinity TV, DirecTV and M-Go, a joint venture between Technicolor and Dream-Works Animation.

The native 4K content plan will involve both apps via the Ultra HD Smart Hub, and what Samsung is calling its UHD Video Pack, a hard drive with movies and documentaries from such studios as 20th Century Fox and Paramount. Samsung said users will eventually be able to download 50 titles from the Smart Hub through the year.

Sony and LG also said they are teaming up with Netflix to stream 4K movies and TV shows directly from their TVs. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who spoke at both the LG and Sony press conferences the day before the show, said all of Netflix’s original programming, such as “House of Cards,” is now being shot in 4K resolution. It is expected to have that series, some nature documentaries and other programming ready to support the next generation of Ultra HD TVs coming to market.

Ultra HD streaming will be part of the standard Netflix streaming price of $8 a month, the company said

Last year, Sony became the first company to announce a 4K Ultra HD service for purchasers of its Sony Bravia Ultra HD TVs. During its press conference, the company said it will be adding additional native 4K movie titles to the Video Unlimited 4K download service.

Meanwhile, Amazon announced that it is also working to have Ultra HD content available to customers of its digital streaming services. The online retailing giant is teaming with Warner Bros., Lions Gate, 20th Century Fox, Discovery and others to have 4K content available.

“Customers are excited about the future of 4K and the next evolution of high-resolution video. We’re working with consumer electronics leaders and Hollywood studios to make that a reality,” Bill Carr, Amazon digital video and music VP, said in a statement.