DirecTV sets up the first UltraHD TV channel in the United States, starting with the Masters golf tournament

The era of live 4K broadcasts begins with a whimper.


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DirecTV is making good on its promise to launch live 4K telecasts in early 2016, though it’s doing so entirely on its own.

On April 7, the AT&T-owned satellite provider will launch a “DirecTV 4K” channel, with the Masters golf tournament as its inaugural offering. Barring any last-minute surprises from other TV providers, this should be the first live 4K UltraHD telecast in the United States.

The Masters telecast will run from April 7 through April 10, roughly between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern time. Instead of traditional coverage that bounces around the entire course, DirecTV will be setting up shop around the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes of the Augusta National Golf Club. (The regular telecast will run on CBS.)

Beyond the tournament, the 4K channel will include videos from DirecTV-owned Audience Network, a selection of documentaries, and other unspecified UltraHD content. DirecTV continues to offer downloadable 4K movies to subscribers as well.

To watch the new channel, subscribers will need either an Ultimate or Premiere package, the latest Genie HD DVR (HR54), and either a DirecTV 4K-ready TV or a 4K Genie Mini connected to any HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 compliant 4K television.

Why this matters: The live 4K telecast is a milestone for the pay-TV industry, which has lagged behind streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime in supporting the higher-resolution format. But it also underscores how much further 4K has to go, as not a single regular channel is offering an UltraHD variant. DirecTV has previously boasted of having capacity for 50 UltraHD channels, and said it would be “bringing our check books” to partners who wanted in. For now, however, the satellite provider stands alone.

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