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The tally of linear channels delivering ultra-high definition (UHD) content swelled to 50 at the end of 2015, according to SNL Kagan, an offering from S&P Global Market Intelligence. However, few individual channels are available worldwide, limiting access for viewers in even the most developed UHD markets.
At the end of 2015, Asia remained the region with the most UHD services, due to launches in Japan and Korea. That situation is expected to continue through 2020, as Korean and Japanese broadcasters launch additional UHD channels prior to the 2018 winter and 2020 summer Olympics hosted in each respective country.
UHD linear services will also grow in North America and Western Europe in 2016, with more than ten new services in each region. The amount of UHD content, both live and non-live, is increasingly enabling the formation of more UHD services. In other cases, UHD services that launched in one region are increasing satellite distribution to other regions as is the case with NASA's UHD channel.
We have seen the launch of entirely new channels, such as Insight, that are not just UHD versions of existing HD channels. Insight is now offered globally and is working to be placed in MVPD channel lineups. UHD-1, Festival 4K and Funbox 4K are other examples of new, UHD-only channels.
UHD content is also being made available on disc. Ultra HD Blu-ray players and titles available were in stores in the U.S. in February. Ultra HD Blu-ray has participation from multiple Hollywood studios, which expect to deliver more than 100 titles by the end of 2016. There are also a number of OTT providers, such as Netflix and Amazon, offering VOD services that contain UHD content.