Q. What’s the best place to find 4K programming? — John, hometown unknown.
John, that’s a great question, particularly for new owners of 4K TV sets. There is still relatively little 4K programming available, which is very frustrating for someone who just made such a large purchase.
The sources for 4K titles include 4K Blu-ray discs, which can be expensive to buy (usually $20 or more) and difficult to rent (Redbox is running a 4K rental trial in just six markets); DIRECTV and Dish, which offer a limited amount of live 4K sporting events and some On Demand movies; YouTube, which features some videos (mostly travel-related) in 4K; fuboTV, the live streaming service, which also offers live events in 4K; and the Video on Demand/Pay Per View streaming services, such as Netflix, Vudu, and Amazon Prime.
There’s also NASA’s 4K service, which can be found streaming for free on Roku, and a handful of other 4K specialty ventures with limited programming.
And that’s about it.
(FYI, The broadcast networks, CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC, have yet to launch 4K editions of their live channels so you wouldn’t be able to access free 4K using your antenna.)
So if I had to pick one source as the best for 4K programming, I would pick Netflix.
Netflix, the world’s largest subscription Video on Demand service (and the industry’s biggest spender), produces almost all of its original programming in 4K, and much of that is done in Dolby Vision HDR.
In case you’re not familiar with HDR, it stands for High Dynamic Range and it can enhance both the color and detail of a 4K picture. Dolby Vision HDR is one of the multiple formats for HDR, and many people (myself included) think it’s the best for adding some extra sizzle to the screen.
Netflix’s library also includes some non-original programming in 4K, such as Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad.
While the number of Netflix’s 4K titles is still dramatically smaller than those in HD, I think it offers the best selection overall in both quantity and quality.
The bad news here is that Netflix charges $13.99 a month for its 4K plan, which is $3 a month more than the high-def package. But 4K TV owners have probably already concluded that companies peddling 4K accessories will always charge more than they should.
John, hope that helps. Happy viewing!
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— Phillip Swann