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Why Did HBO & ESPN Execs Bash 4K TV?
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (June 25, 2013) - Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by sending an e-mail to

Q. I was very surprised to read your article about the high-ranking executives at HBO and ESPN questioning the future of 4K TV. Were you? Seems like execs in our industry usually keep their mouths shut or they give the party line that everything will be great, right? -- Damon, Los Angeles.

Damon, you're not the first to point that out. I was surprised and so were many people in the industry.

As background for readers who didn't read the article,
Chuck Pagano, ESPN's CTO and EVP, told Multichannel News that he wasn't certain 4K TV would be successful because the picture improvement over HDTV is not noticeable unless you're sitting very close to the screen and watching a very large screen set.

In March, Bob Zitter, HBO's tech guru, said basically the same thing, adding he was "very skeptical' that consumers would buy 4K TVs.

Now contrast Ziter and Pagano's remarks with the words of industry execs when 3D TV was introduced more than three years ago. It was difficult to find anyone in the industry who didn't proclaim 3D TV to be the next big thing.

And I think that explains why you are getting such candor now about 4K.

When 3D TV was launched, many industry executives put their reputations (and perhaps their careers) on the line when they so boldly embraced it, both publicly and privately. They told their bosses that it would be a hit and, in some case, they persuaded their higher-ups to invest significant company money in new 3D programming.

But 3D TV was a huge failure, as witnessed by ESPN's recent decision to close its 3D channel by year's end. And now those executives who so enthusiastically pushed 3D TV have egg on their faces.

Do you think they want a repeat performance with 4K TV?

No way. They're gun shy now and, consequently, will take a more conservative stance in the media and in private with their bosses.

It makes sense, doesn't it? If they promoted 4K -- and it failed -- they would be two-time losers  and that could put their jobs in jeopardy.

I'm not saying that Ziter and Pagano are expressing doubt for this reason. I have no inside information to suggest that. But what I am saying is that you will find fewer people in the industry willing to put their necks on the line for 4K so soon after the huge failure of 3D TV.

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