4K TVs were first announced a few years ago, promising to be the future of home entertainment and "the next big thing". They also arrived with sky high prices that meant many of us couldn't justify buying one.

Since then, specifications have been deliberated and cemented and there's even been the introduction of high dynamic range (HDR).

As with anything, as time has gone on, prices have started to fall so buying a 4K TV is now more affordable than ever.

And fortunately, the amount of content you can watch in 4K has gone from very little to an awful lot in the same time period. While you may not be able to watch The Great British Bake Off in 4K just yet, there are plenty of films and TV shows from the major streaming services and live sports to enjoy.

But just how much 4K content is out there, where can you find it and which shows should you be looking out for to best show off your screen? Allow us to explain…

  • Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube have 4K content
  • Wide range of TV shows and films
  • HDR content supported

The two easiest ways to get your 4K fix via the internet is through Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The two video streaming giants have seriously committed to 4K content and film the majority of their original content in the format. Both also offer a selection of films in 4K Ultra HD, although some of the films on Amazon need to be bought or rented.

Better still, both also stream their original content with HDR too, and Netflix can lay claim to being able to stream Dolby Vision to compatible TVs such as LG OLEDs.

Pocket-linthow to watch 4k ultra hd content on tv and online image 3

Netflix was one of the first video streaming services to offer 4K content with season 2 of House of Cards being the first to be 4K ready. Since then, it's library of content has expanded and now includes 26 titles across TV shows, movies and documentaries.

You will need to make sure your 4K TV has an HDMI 2.0 connection and supports HDCP 2.2 if you want to stream from an external player. The majority of 4K TVs released nowadays should have these, but it's worth double checking. Many Smart 4K TVs also have a native Netflix app installed or available.

Price:

  • £5.99/month for 1 screen viewing in standard definition
  • £7.49/month for 2 screen viewing in SD and HD
  • £8.99/month for 4 screen viewing in 4K Ultra HD

Devices:

Stand out content:

  • House of Cards
  • Breaking Bad
  • Bloodline
  • Daredevil
Pocket-linthow to watch 4k ultra hd content on tv and online image 4

Amazon Prime Video has a wide range of 4K TV shows and movies available to stream, with a number of original TV shows available for free as part of a Prime membership. Films are available to stream but these need to be paid for or rented. Amazon Prime Video also offers Dolby Vision on select titles.

Price:

  • £79/year for a Prime membership
  • £5.99/month for just Prime Video
  • Rent films from 99p to £6.99
  • Buy films from £4.99 to £13.99

Devices:

  • 4K and 4K HDR Smart TVs
  • Xbox One S
  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Ultra HD Blu-ray players

Stand out content:

  • Mad Dogs
  • Bosch - available with Dolby Vision
  • The Grand Tour - available with HDR
  • Mozart in the Jungle - available with HDR
YouTubehow to watch 4k ultra hd content on tv and online image 8

YouTube has been supporting 4K content for longer than you might think, with videos uploaded as far back as 2010 having the higher resolution format. Since November 2016, YouTube has also started supporting HDR videos too, but to watch both, you'll need to have compatible hardware.

Because anyone can upload content to YouTube, there's likely to be more videos available to watch, although their production values may not be as high as what you'll find on Netflix and Amazon.

Price: Free

Devices:

  • 4K HDR Smart TVs
  • PlayStation 4 Pro
  • Chromecast Ultra
  • Computer that supports VP9 codec and a 4K compatible monitor
  • Sky Q, BT Sport, Virgin TV V6 box (coming soon), Ultra HD Blu-ray

For a long time the only way you could watch 4K content was via one of the streaming services mentioned above, as there wasn't any Ultra HD broadcast content on TV. That's all changed now as BT and Sky (and soon to be Virgin Media) will offer a few ways to watch 4K content via a set-top box.

Pocket-linthow to watch 4k ultra hd content on tv and online image 6

When Sky Q launched, it claimed it would have the UK's most comprehensive selection of 4K content to watch, either live or on demand. We're inclined to agree, as the service has a large choice of films and TV shows to view on demand and an extensive selection of live sporting events.

On demand content needs to be downloaded to your box before you can watch it, although once a certain percentage has downloaded you can start viewing. Sky Q doesn't currently offer HDR content.

Sky also offers over 30 4K movies through the Sky Store to rent or buy.

What you'll need:

  • Sky Q 2TB box
  • Sky Cinema and/or Sky Sports pack
  • Compatible 4K Ultra HD TV

Price:

  • £199 for Sky Q 2TB box without Sky Multi-Screen. £60 with Sky Q Multi-Screen at £12/month.
  • Sky Box Sets TV bundle for £38/month
  • Sky Cinema for £18/month
  • Sky Sports for £27.50/month

Stand out content:

  • 2017 Formula 1 season
  • Sky exclusive David Attenborough nature series
  • The Martian
Pocket-linthow to watch 4k ultra hd content on tv and online image 9

BT was the first broadcaster in the UK to launch a live Ultra HD service. However, that service is limited to one sporting channel, which only shows a smattering of 4K sporting events.

Nevertheless, if it's just sports you're interested in, BT's offering could be worth considering, as it's much more affordable than Sky Q and BT TV runs on the YouView platform. Because the box is Ultra HD compatible, you can also watch 4K Netflix though it too, with the relevant subscription.

What you'll need:

  • BT YouView+ Ultra HD box
  • Total Entertainment TV package
  • Compatible 4K TV

Price:

  • Total Entertainment currently £10/month if you already have BT Infinity fibre broadband
  • BT Sport - free
  • Total Entertainment + BT Infinity Fibre broadband from £36/month + £18.99 line rental
how to watch 4k ultra hd content on tv and online image 7

Virgin Media has recently unveiled its much anticipated V6 box, powered by TiVo, as its 4K TV offering. The big selling point here is that it will support 4K HDR content, something its rivals can't do.

At launch there isn't a great deal of 4K content to watch, with the only ways being through Netflix and YouTube. But Virgin Meida has said its box is primed and ready for when 4K broadcasts become a thing. We're also hoping Virgin Media manages to negotiate deals with BT and Sky to put their 4K sports services on the box.

What you'll need:

  • Virgin TV V6 box - £99.95 or £49.95 with a VIP or Full House bundle
  • TV package - prices tbc
  • Compatible 4K HDR TV

Read:

Pocket-linthow to watch 4k ultra hd content on tv and online image 10

Ultra HD Blu-ray is relatively new to the market, although it has been teased for some time. It took the UHD Alliance some time to develop a standard for the new discs, as they need to have a larger data capacity than regular HD Blu-rays. But now UHD discs are here, with a handful of players around to watch them on. Ultra HD Blu-rays have HDR support as standard and are without doubt the most stable way of getting 4K on your TV.

  • Samsung was first out the blocks with the UBD-K8500 - around £300
  • Panasonic quickly followed with the DMP-UB900 - around £430
  • Panasonic has a second, more affordable player in the DMP-UB700 - around £350
  • Microsoft Xbox One S, which represents the cheapest 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player available right now at £230.

Of course, you'll need to buy new discs, as the Blu-rays you already have gathering dust in your cupboards won't work. Amazon has a huge range of titles, especially as the latest blockbusters are all being released in the new format. Most discs will cost you around £20 each, which considering the benefits of a 4K HDR picture over regular HD Blu-ray, is worth it.

Ultra HD Blu-rays also come with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound codecs on them, so not only can you get a better picture on the screen, you can also get a bigger, better sound to go with it. Assuming you have the necessary speakers, of course. 

Sections TV