Biggest UHD choice in Switzerland
When it comes to buying a TV, UHD is everywhere now – but it's still a rarity when it comes to channels. That’s going to change now at Swisscom: from today, Swisscom is massively extending its choice of exclusive channels that broadcast exclusively in this new super standard.
Roger Baur, 7 December 2017, update 16 May 2018
It looks as if HD is on its way out. Just take a look in the shops: the new devices are now almost all UHD-ready: equipped for a technology that makes things even clearer, better and richer in contrast. Its full effect is best appreciated on very large screens. In theory, at least. In practice though, there isn’t a lot of content out there. Apart from Swisscom, most Swiss providers have no channels or just test channels on offer. Not one single major channel in Central Europe already broadcasts in UHD. Camera, production and studio engineering would have to undergo extensive changes. The investment involved in the switch to HD is too recent to switch again.
Swisscom TV and Teleclub are leading the way, broadcasting the Super League in UHD. FIFA will follow for the next World Cup. Picture: Keystone
By contrast, Teleclub is one of the pioneers in this field: the Swiss channel has already begun with exclusive football matches in UHD exclusively for Swisscom TV, ahead of most other international sport providers. 144 Swiss matches alone will be aired in the current football season. It is certainly worth it: every additional pixel brings greater enjoyment of the fast-paced game with the tiny ball. That is a fact in FIFA’s plans to deliver the upcoming football World Cup to broadcasters all in UHD. It is not clear yet whether they will be able to transmit the signal in this form to viewers. This is one of the reasons why the world cup in Russia is also being produced in UHD: in Switzerland only Swisscom TV customers will be able to view the world cup matches in UHD on SRG channels (SRF, RTS and RSI) and, for the first time ever, also in the vibrant colours and rich contrasts offered by HDR.
To date Teleclub has succeeded in purchasing many films on the international market in the feature film and documentary categories. This selection is also exclusively available on Swisscom TV, on “Teleclub on demand”.
Otherwise, only YouTube and Netflix are among the few platforms to regularly provide UHD content so far. Netflix in particular is reported to tailor the scripts of whole series to UHD technology. Indeed the full impact of the stories in its own productions like “Stranger Things”, “Narcos” or “Sense8” are only seen fully in UHD. Documentaries like “Chef’s Table” are especially impressive: you can identify every single delicious grain of rice with UHD.
Both Teleclub with its UHD products and also YouTube and Netflix are established fixtures of Swisscom TV. Swisscom also offers one dedicated fashion and lifestyle channel and four UHD demo channels. “The product is already in high demand. We constantly receive requests from other providers’ customers who are disappointed when they only find a test card on their newly purchased device, and who want to switch provider as soon as possible,” explains Head of Swisscom TV Peter Fregelius. “So our experts continuously scout worldwide for providers who we can bring to Switzerland. And I’m happy to say that we already have the best of the UHD sector under contract.”
To be precise, Swisscom has succeeded in attracting four international UHD pioneers to Switzerland: the entertainment channel “FunBox UHD”, the film, documentary and series channel “4K Universe”, the concert channel “Stingray Festival 4K” and “Ultra Nature HD” with its stunning images. All channels are available to Swisscom TV L subscribers at no extra cost. (see box) “Once you’ve seen UHD, you’ll never want to see anything else,” says Peter Fregelius with a chuckle. “So we're delighted to have attracted all four of these still rare pioneers in this field to our platform.” That just leaves one question: for anyone looking for a new device, it is worthwhile opting for UHD? Peter Fregelius explains: “You don’t enjoy the full effect on devices with screens smaller than 40 inches. By contrast, watching TV on a 55 or 65 inch screen without UHD is like driving a Porsche in first gear.”
|SD:||Conventional digital television standard with maximum 720×576 pixel. Still common for DVDs and digital TV via antenna.|
|HD:||High definition picture with maximum 1920×1080 pixel. Common on most channels today, often recognisable by the “HD” logo.|
|UHD:||Ultra HD, four times higher definition than HD: maximum 3840×2160 pixel.|
|4K / 8K:||Technologies that exceed even the UHD standard. 4K only slightly improves upon the standard so is often equated with UHD. 8K is still in the test phase.|
Swisscom TV has offered impressive Ultra HD picture quality since early 2016, with four times higher resolution than HD. And it has now launched the latest generation of digital television.