Opinion: 8K has had a rather rocky road to being. Compared to 4K TVs, they’re still relatively expensive for mainstream appetites, there’s very little content to taste in the format, and to make matters worse, if you live in the EU you may not be able to buy them in 2023.
Now this is an extreme and early reading of the situation, but it is a possibility. It emerged around the IFA consumer event that the European Union is set to bring another round of regulation regarding the energy consumption of devices in March 2023, and under these regulations, 8K TVs are not complying.
The worst case scenario is that it will become illegal to buy in EU member states, and this applies not only to new models but models already on the market, which can still be sold to consumers but once they run out of stock, that is.
This seems like a rather drastic and avoidable shift, especially since these regulations appear to have been made with Full HD and Ultra HD in mind. 8K TVs require a significant amount of power to power the backlight and create vivid images that appear on the screen, and this legislation would significantly reduce that ability.
It’s another issue troubling the emergence of 8K, which hasn’t really taken off the way the manufacturers wanted (obviously). With lower profit margins for cheaper LCD TVs, 8K offers TV brands the ability to drive larger margins with premium technology and higher prices. But 8K has been around since 2018 and while we’ve loved the performance of some TVs in every generation, it doesn’t quite fly off the shelves.
I’ve attended quite a few product feeds related to 8K and they all praised that 8K is on a similar trajectory to 4K in terms of market saturation and reach, but the pandemic seems to have led to a drop in sales and despite their “creation” they will come “the philosophy behind pushing 8K; Content in 8K is on the sidelines and many manufacturers have not stepped in to produce 8K TVs.
I attended an 8K broadcast experience for BT Sport in the UAE in 2020 with the expectation that the start of BT Sport would put the format in front of subscribers’ eyeballs. An 8K broadcast of a rugby league match earlier in 2022 suggests it wasn’t forgotten, but there isn’t as much noise going on around as I would have expected. The news of that 8K broadcast felt way too low for what’s an impressive technical achievement.
Factor in that broadcasters are still locked into HD playback (you have to pay for HD streaming on NOW, which is ridiculous in this day and age); Prices are slowly dropping but still relatively expensive (LG’s 77-inch OLED costs £11,999) and 8K still looks like the technology of the future. Even 4K still feels as if it hasn’t penetrated viewers, so how will 8K be perceived when the content is lower and more expensive? Not nicely, I bet.
There is still time to turn things around in regards to the EU ruling by the December 2022 review group, and you imagine some logic will be seen on this. Banning sales of 8K TVs may sound dumb and not particularly progressive thinking, but it’s another hurdle to get past 8K. To derive a quote from a popular movie series, there is no destiny but what we make of ourselves, but unlike the antagonist in that series, 8K shows stops in its tracks.