Beating Japan and all other countries to market, South Korea has begun broadcasting five channels of 4K UHD content. While these channels are only available to people who have special cable connections sponsored by LG, these features will expand to the general public once 4K gets a bigger foothold. Via the Korean website ET News:
… the participating five MSOs open their own channels for UHD broadcasts and offer UHD broadcasts to six households in each of the cable TV service areas.
The domestic cable TV industry initially planned to begin pilot UHD broadcasts early next year, but decided to advance the pilot run date by 6 months with a view to commercializing UHD broadcasts at an earlier date. As a result, the commercialization of UHD broadcasts will be advanced from 2015 to 2014.
Korea has some of the fastest internet connections in the civilized world, so handling five channels of 4K shouldn’t have a big impact on their ability to still carry a lot of channels and provide warp-drive internet to everyone. 4K support in the US, however, is still in question. Channels like ESPN are dumping 3D to make room for the new UHD format with the expectation that it’s likely to fair better with audiences, but the elephant in the room remains whether people will buy large enough sets, and sit close enough to them, to see the real difference.