According to Sunil Nayyar, director of Sony’s U.S. television branch, the company will launch its own 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player by the end of their next fiscal year, which is in March 2017. For now, however, it is waiting for competitors Samsung, Philips and Panasonic to raise the stakes in a market where $400 is the lowest price around for a standalone player capable of reading new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.
Meanwhile, 2016 will be a year for Sony to focus on launching its 4K HDR streaming service, also known as “Ultra.” Unfortunately, the service will only work if your TV is a Sony Bravia 4K UHDTV, and it should have roughly 40 to 50 movies at launch. They include Fury (2014), Elysium (2013), Men in Black 3 (2012), Chappie (2015), The Walk (2015), S.A.L.T. (2010), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Pineapple Express (2008).
Sony Pictures has already announced plans for 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs over the next few months and has been offering “Mastered in 4K” discs since early 2013. This service allows movie studios to archive their films in 4K for historical preservation (and some in 8K). The result is that these archived master copies can now be used as sources for 4K theatrical releases as well as re-releases of older films on the new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format.
During CES, Sony President and CEO Kazuo Hirai was non-committal on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray plans, telling TWICE magazine that Sony would only launch a player “if the physical format takes off despite the popularity of streaming services.” The confirmation by Sony’s U.S. television branch director Sunil Nayyar, however, suggests that Sony’s intent to offer a physical player reflects a new strategy in the company’s 4K plans.