By Yoeri Geutskens
The Ultra HD Forum’s Service Tracker keeps a record of Ultra HD services worldwide, covering services offered directly to consumers as well as ‘B2B’ services supplied to service providers who in turn offer these to consumers. These B2C service providers include IPTV, cable, satellite (DTH), and terrestrial (DTT) operators, as well as streaming video platforms (OTT). The tracker follows services with 4K resolution and HDR Dynamic Range though currently, all such services except one are in 4K.
HLG vs. PQ
There are various HDR formats, but we can divide (or combine, if you will) them into two groups – HLG or Hybrid Log Gamma and PQ or Perceptual Quantizer. The latter covers PQ10, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and Technicolor Advanced HDR. These last two dynamic metadata solutions are becoming universal and capable of accepting any other HDR format as input.
When we take a look at which services use either type, a distinct pattern emerges. Of some 137 linear TV providers, we count about 40% that offer HDR content. The vast majority (81%) of them use HLG, while 11% use PQ.
With On-Demand services, particularly OTT streaming providers, the picture is almost perfectly mirrored: Of the 76% that offer HDR content, 88% use PQ while 12% use HLG.
There are sensible reasons for these differing approaches. Streaming services use several different versions of each asset; they address a specific group of devices with a given resolution. Likewise, these versions can be SDR or HDR, depending on the target device’s capabilities. There may even be different versions of it that are HDR10 or Dolby Vision.
Broadcasters and cable/satellite providers, on the other hand, cannot afford the bandwidth to handle such diversity. It’s just too scarce. They offer some programs in both SD and HD resolution and rarely more. Broadcasters prefer HLG’s relative compatibility with existing live production workflows, but more importantly, to retain compatibility between HDR and SDR.
Do you want to find out more?
If your organization is part of this industry, is considering Ultra HD services, and wants to know more about the possibilities and how to do things in practice, get in touch with the Ultra HD Forum.