Sony is waiting for a large number of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs to hit the market before launching a 4K Blu-ray player in the U.S., but it will definitely launch a model by the end of its next fiscal year in March 2017, said Sunil Nayyar, director of Sony’s U.S. TV business.
The company will focus first on launching its first 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) streaming service sometime this year for playback through its 4K HDR Android TVs, the company added.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has already announced plans to offer 4K discs to coincide with the launch of 4K Blu-ray players from other companies in the coming months and also provides 4K disc mastering services.
Sony’s intent to offer a player reflects an evolution in Sony’s plans, a spokesman told TWICE. During CES, Sony president/CEO Kazuo Hirai was noncommittal, telling TWICE that Sony would launch a player if the physical format takes off despite the popularity of streaming services. The spokesman also said Sony won’t be among the first to launch 4K disc players because it wants to do it “the Sony way and the right way.”
Logically, Sony would launch its player in time for this year’s Christmas selling season, but the company would not offer a more precise launch date.
If the company waited until late this year, however, its launch would occur at a time when Mike Dunn, president of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, said he expects more than 100 4K disc titles will be available in the U.S. by the end of 2016.
Four home-video companies -- Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Lionsgate, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainments, and Warner Brothers Home Entertainment -- plan to launch 4K Blu-ray titles to coincide with this year’s conservative hardware launch from Samsung, Philips, and Panasonic, with Samsung planning to be first with a March launch.
The suggested retail prices announced for 4K discs to date range from $22.99 to $42.99.