More than a third of video subscribers claim ultra-high-definition (UHD) content is an important criterion in their choice of video services, across five markets surveyed. Among households with both pay TV and online video subscriptions, that preference rises to 50 percent.


  • In the five countries surveyed by IHS Markit, 36 percent of video subscribers claimed ultra-high-definition (UHD) content is an important criterion in their choice of video services. Among households with both pay TV and online video subscriptions, that preference rises to 50 percent.
  • Respondents between the ages of 17 and 44 exhibited the most interest in UHD content; men age 25 to 34 were most interested, while those aged 45 and over reported the least interest.
  • Globally, more than one-third of active internet-connected TV sets are currently 4K capable; that number will grow, since 4K TV sets now comprise more than half of all TV shipments in China, North America and Western Europe.
  • Among consumers who indicated UHD was important to them, Netflix subscriptions were double that of respondents who did not consider UHD to be an important feature in a video service. Nearly 27 percent of these consumers visit Netflix first when looking for something to watch on an average day, compared to 16 percent for all other video subscribers.

Our analysis

More than a third of video subscribers across the five markets surveyed -- the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Brazil -- indicated that UHD content is important in their choice of video service, across both paid-for and free services. Adults under the age of 35, and particularly males, were most interested in UHD content. The preference for high-resolution video is in line with the growing, albeit small, number of UHD titles available and the rising penetration of 4K-capable TV sets. IHS Markit research reveals that more than 4 in 10 TV sets shipped globally in the second quarter of 2018 were 4K capable.

Consumers who indicated UHD content figured into their choice of video services were more likely than others to own connectable video devices – particularly games consoles and over-the-top (OTT) streaming devices, like Apple TV and Chromecast. Owners of Apple TV, PS4 Pro, Xbox One X and other 4K-capable devices had the highest uplift in connection rates to the primary TV screen, indicating a desire to consume the latest technologies and watch high-definition video content. This finding is particularly important during a time when most connected devices allow access to similar video content apps. Lower-cost devices, like Fire TV and Roku, saw little or no change in household penetration compared to those who indicated UHD is important to all other video subscribers.

When subscribing to both pay TV and OTT video services, consumers who thought UHD was important were also more likely to be driven by device availability, including the ability to watch video content on more than one device, or to watch on a specific device. The likelihood of renting or purchasing digital video content also increases across all content types, including new movie releases and TV box sets.

Netflix penetration increased by 75 percent among consumers who felt UHD content was important. Netflix is also the go-to video service among 27 percent of this group, compared to 16 percent of all other video subscribers.

While OTT content availability has largely been driven by OTT video services, a small but growing number of pay TV operators now make UHD content available to their subscribers, primarily via “on demand” services. These findings underscore the importance of UHD among a well-connected and content-hungry consumer base, because they also tend to be big spenders on the latest technologies and content services, with a demonstrated preference for premium products.