Mike Fidler, new UHDA president

UPDATE! We have included an interview with new UHDA President Mike Fidler after the jump in the story. Read on for his mission objectives.

The Ultra HD Alliance (UHDA), the inter-industry group working on 4K UHD standards recommendations and the promotion of UHD and HDR benefits and performance to consumers, announced a new slate of executive officers including Michael Zink, technology VP of Warner Bros. as the new board chairman, and long-time consumer electronics industry veteran Mike Fidler, as the group’s first fulltime president.

Additionally, the group said it is recognizing the importance of next-generation audio to the overall home entertainment experience by advancing long-time member-level UHDA company Xperi Corporation (DTS parent company) to the UHDA board.

As was started with the original leadership, the new executives are expected to bring a balanced and neutral point of view to the shifting technological landscape, in the midst of the implementation of new HDR technologies and multiple object-based audio systems.

Read more about the UHDA board changes after the jump:

Zink succeeds the group’s first chairman, Hanno Basse, who is CTO of 20th Century Fox Film Corp. At Warner Bros., Zink is responsible for emerging technologies for the studio’s production, post-production and distribution capabilities and serves as WB’s liaison to a range of standards bodies focused on enhancing and expanding the home entertainment experience for consumers.

As UHDA Chairman, Zink will be responsible for “driving the organizational mission and vision of the global coalition as it looks to further expand certification and logo programs to help consumers identify premium Ultra HD products and content across a range of categories,” according to a statement from the Alliance.

“From a content provider perspective, there are so many exciting things we can do with UHD, and, in particular, with HDR,” stated Zink. “Consumers are starting to see the benefits of the technology and are just beginning to understand how HDR adds to the experience but still require great deal more education. To that end, I expect our organizational vision will expand to include broader consumer promotion and information efforts for UHD in total as well as for our Ultra HD Premium and Mobile HDR Premium logo programs.”

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Fidler, who is a longtime senior level consumer electronics sales and marketing veteran with past leadership positions at both Pioneer Electronics and later Sony Electronics, was among the founding board members of the DVD Entertainment Group, now called the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG). In its first years, the DVD Entertainment Group successfully built awareness and acceptance for the DVD format and played a major role in that technology eco-system’s success.

At the UHDA, Fidler is tasked with enhancing the membership roles, increasing Ultra HD brand awareness, driving new consumer education initiatives and facilitating the expansion of Alliance certification and logo programs into other categories of hardware and content.

During his time at Sony, Fidler also helped drive the conversion of the theatrical exhibition industry from film to digital and advanced the development and marketing of optical laser technologies.  He also served as the Entrepreneur in Residence at CONNECT, advising start-up companies in Southern California.

“It is a pivotal year for UHD and HDR, from both the hardware and content standpoint, with sales expected to explode in 2017 en route to continued growth for the foreseeable future,” Fidler said. “Consistency of experience along with broader consumer awareness and deeper understanding, will be critical to sustaining growth and I look forward to working with all of our members to firmly establish the Alliance as a leading voice and resource for all things Ultra HD.”

Fidler told HD Guru the biggest challenge he sees coming into his new role is helping to raise the level of consumer awareness to the various technologies associated with UHD video, particularly HDR.

“Consumer education is going to be a big part of our expanded vision for the organization and it’s important that we can translate technology in understandable terms to the consumer, so that they know what to look for and can feel a little more confident in making their buying decision,” Fidler said. “We also will be looking at issues around interoperability and how these new devices work together so that consumers know they are actually getting that premium experience.”

Fidler said his goal is to draw from past experience to minimize issues that plagued consumers with the launch of HDTV. That experience included people who bought HDTVs but didn’t realize they needed to have them properly connected to an antenna or HDTV cable or satellite TV channel to enjoy the full picture benefits.

Fidler said the UHDA will be “making people aware of not only what HDR is and does, but how people can make sure they are actually receving and enjoying the content at the level of quality they expected.

“There is a lot of confusion out there about HDR, expecially when consumers see terms like HDR, HDR10, HDR1000, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision and so on.  It’s hard to translate what they all mean, but also what consumers should expect to see and hear from these new experiences. Our role is to make sure we can deliver or exceed the expectations of consumers through a conduit of information including the press, the retailers and throughout the ecosystem which is represented very nicely within the Alliance.”

Fidler said he will be looking to expand the UHDA membership, in part, by “making sure different devices are addressed, including things like soundbars, AV receivers or some of the expanded content and distribution that is involved.”

“We intend to set the bar very high for the entire ecosystem,” Fidler told HD Guru, “to make sure not only that the technology is capable of delivering it, but that we can provide the right kind of impetus for the creative side to deliver its vision and artistic intent through the pallet on which they can present this great experience to the market place.”

Fidler vowed that as the technology continues to evolve, “we’ll continue to keep our eye on it,” to make sure the messages consumers need to know are addressed.

The Alliance most recently launched its Mobile HDR Premium specification and logo licensing for battery-operated devices as an addition to its certification and logo program for televisions, prerecorded content and Ultra HD Blu-ray players. Both Zink and Fidler will be at this year’s IFA show to outline the organization’s broadening mission and to discuss connected steps to help grow the 4K UHD with HDR ecosystem.


By Greg Tarr


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