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Sony’s 4K movie streaming will cost $30 a film

Sony is launching a 4K Ultra High-Definition movie-streaming service next week but it's not cheap.

4K is a relatively new picture technology used by TV manufacturers that quadruples the number of pixels found in a full-HD picture, with the aim of giving a clearer image on screen.

The service, called Ultra, will debut on April 4 only on Sony 4K Ultra HD TVs that have Android TV, Google's answer to Apple TV, on them.

Sony said that each movie will cost $30 in 4K with high dynamic range (HDR). Images shot in HDR essentially make the contrast between light and dark colors even more prominent so the white highlights are even brighter. The purpose is to make the image on screen look more realistic.

David McNew | AFP | Getty Images

Movies will include Sony Pictures titles such as "The Night Before" and "The Walk" as well as older movies like "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon".

"Consumers are rapidly upgrading their living rooms to 4K, and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's new Ultra streaming service will provide a premium viewing experience to satisfy growing demand for 4K movies and television shows," Jake Winett, vice president of consumer services and advanced platforms at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, said in a press release on Tuesday.

Customers who purchase eligible Sony 4K Ultra HD televisions with Ultra this summer will receive four complimentary movies when they sign up for the service.


Too expensive?

There are a few challenges facing the widespread adoption of 4K currently. Firstly, even though the likes of Samsung, LG and Sony are betting big on 4K, the actual TVs are still relatively expensive. The second major issue is that there is still a lack of 4K content around.

This is what Sony and other firms are hoping to change. By making more 4K content available, TV manufactures are hoping to drive uptake of their products. Last year, Michael Zoller, head of visual display for Europe at Samsung, told CNBC the firm was in discussions with Netflix, Amazon and major Hollywood studios about pushing 4K content.

Last month, Netflix told CNBC that it is ramping up production of 4K programs and by the end of the year, it will have 600 hours of content shot in that quality.

Still, Sony's price tag of $30 per film appears steep when compared to the $12 per month Netflix fee to access 4K content. Also, the Ultra service is only available on Sony TVs which limits its reach.

A Sony Pictures spokesperson told CNBC that the pricing of its service is in line with the price of 4K UHD discs and 4K content on other streaming services but could not say whether Ultra could be released on other devices such as the company's PlayStation 4 games console.