DirecTV beats cable companies to 4K, will offer 19 movies Friday, live TV to come

DirecTV dropped a high-resolution bomb today, announcing that its new 4K TV service will launch Friday on select Samsung 4K/UHD TVs. The service will begin with 19 titles from Paramount Pictures and K2 communications, highlighted by the big-budget visual spectacles Transformers: Age of Extinction, as well 2009’s Star Trek.

As expected, 4K service will begin with a whisper rather than a roar, requiring a very specific combination of hardware, including DirecTV’s Genie HD DVR, and a Samsung 4K/UHD TV that is certified “DirecTV 4K ready.” Details about which Samsung TVs will be compliant with the new service have yet to be disclosed.

The first of its kind in the pay-TV universe, DirecTV’s new video on demand 4K service is something of a testing ground for the company’s planned launch of a handful of live 4K channels, slated for rollout in 2015. The plans for the more robust service next year were disclosed by DirecTV CEO Mike White during the company’s third quarter earnings call, as reported.

Comcast is expected to launch its own 4K service next year as well, but with today’s announcement, DirecTV threw the first punch in the fight for resolution domination by cable and satellite providers.

The full list of titles for DirecTV’s fledgling lineup include special-effects dazzlers like the aforementioned Transformers filmalong with older re-mastered movies including Forrest GumpAmistad, McLintock!, and The Terminal.

Following Netflix’s lead, DirecTV will also host a handful of nature films and documentaries, including The Last Reef, Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs, Antarctica, Dolphins, Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag, Dinosaurs Alive!, Coral Reef Adventure, Space Junk, Yellowstone, Legends of Flight, Rescue, The Ultimate Wave Tahiti and, Mysteries of the Great Lakes.

Today’s news is a coup, not only for DirecTV, but also for Samsung, which has seemingly supplanted Sony as the go-to technology for all things 4K. Comcast’s forthcoming 4K service is also slated for launch on Samsung TVs, and just yesterday, Samsung and VOD service M-Go announced a joint venture for a new 4K pay-per-view service that will begin with a few titles, ramping up to around 100 4K movies and TV shows by year’s end. Add in 4K services from Netflix, and Amazon’s anticipated new offering, and things are looking pretty good for consumers who’ve chosen Samsung TVs as their launching pad for the new 4K era.

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