Samsung has announced that it has teamed up with Sky TV in Germany to stream the third season of WW2 U-boat drama Das Boot entirely in 8K and Dolby Atmos, making Sky the first major streaming service to take the step up from 4K. However, the super high res series will only be available to viewers in Germany with new Samsung 8K TVs.
Although Samsung launched its first 8K TVs in 2018, sales of the premium screens have suffered due to a shortage of readily available content. In April, a new report from market analyst Omdia revealed that shipments of 8K TVs accounted for just 0.15% of all TVs in 2021, translating to little over 350,000 units globally, with Samsung selling the lion's share – 65% or around 227,500 units.
Omnia's report concluded that consumers remain "sceptical" about 8K TVs and content, predicting that "just 2.7 million households worldwide" will have an 8K TV by the end of 2026, saying: "We see no convincing market demand of further 8K service development. Even in Japan, where there is a true 8K channel (from NHK), uptake has been minimal."
In turn, broadcasters have been tentative about moving to 8K due to the high bandwidth demands involved in the workflow for a comparatively small audience. In the UK, BT Sport recently produced its first live 8K sports broadcast, but there's no suggestion an 8K sports channel is even close to being launched. Elsewhere YouTube hosts some 8K content, but the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus, and Amazon Video have all yet to make so much as a hint that 8K is on their agenda, with the majority of users seemingly content to watch content in 1080p.
In an attempt to prove 8K can be done, and presumably to drive sales, Samsung has collaborated with Sky, which produced Das Boot natively in 8K, to make the series available from Samsung's TV Plus app in Germany but, unfortunately for early adopters, only on its 2020, 2021 and 2022 models.
For the optimum viewing experience, Samsung advises that users need a minimum 40Mbps internet connection but have not indicated the video compression type or if the series is in HDR.
Speaking about the announcement, Mike Henkelmann, Director of Marketing Consumer Electronics at Samsung, said, "As a pioneer of 8K technology, Samsung makes an important contribution and enables the TV audience to achieve high-resolution image quality."
While it's promising to see progress in the realms of 8K, the extremely limited release of Das Boot is a drop in the ocean unlikely to make significant ripples, with several more years of development expected before 8K reaches 4K ubiquity.
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