Japanese broadcaster NHK is to provide public viewings of live 8K television as it gears up to deliver the format, which has 16 times the resolution of high-definition television. Coverage of a national music contest will be shown at venues in Japan on the last day of 2015. The Japanese broadcaster is planning to introduce a full 8K service by 2018.

NHK will host 8K public viewings of the 66th NHK Kohaku Uta Gassen on New Year’s Eve.

The annual ‘Red and White Song Contest’ has been running on television in Japan since 1953. It features a red team of female artists and a white team of male singers who compete for the votes of a panel of judges and the audience in the NHK Hall and at home.

The show will be screened in 8K Super Hi-Vision at four venues, on screens ranging from 200 to 350 inches. The special coverage will differ from the main broadcast programme, providing an impression of being present at the NHK Hall, which seats 3,800.

The largest live viewing venue only seats 170, so places will be allocated by lottery. At some venues there will also be screenings of other 8K programming, including highlights of the show from the previous year.

NHK is pioneering the production of 8K television, with a resolution of 7680×4320 pixels. That is twice the horizontal and vertical resolution of 4K UHD and four times the resolution in each dimension of full HD television, with 16 times as many pixels. Each frame is around 33 megapixels.

The Japanese broadcaster plans to offer a full 8K service by 2018, in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Elsewhere, we are starting to see 4K UHD broadcasts, with a number of channels already in operation. BT currently offers a limited service in Britain. Sky has launched a new box that will be 4K UHD capable. Tricolor in Russia has launched a 4K UHD service and DIRECTV in America is planning to launch 4K in 2016.

While some may question the need for 8K, it essentially means it is not possible to discern individual pixels under normal viewing conditions. In comparison, 4K UHD offers just over 8 megapixels per frame, which is less than most current consumer stills cameras. Full HD offers only 2 megapixels, while a standard definition frame offers less than half a million pixels.