BT Sport and Samsung screened the first public live coverage of sport in 8K ultra-high-definition in the United Kingdom. A UEFA Europa League football match between Arsenal and Olympiacos was relayed from the Emirates Stadium in London. Whether it qualifies as a broadcast, as described by BT, is a question of definition.
The coverage was supported by a bespoke BT Sport 8K outside broadcast set up and was delivered to Samsung 8K televisions over an IP network.
8K ultra-high-definition has a resolution of 7680×4320, or over 33 million pixels, four times that of 4K. The coverage was enhanced with HDR10+ high dynamic range to improve shadow and highlight detail, with a frame rate of 50 frames per second.
An uncompressed feed at 48 Gbps was available for viewing in an executive box overlooking the pitch.
Viewers at home would receive a 70 Mbps compressed version using HEVC High Efficiency Video Coding from Beamr, although this could come down to 60-65 Mbps before long.
The 8K image was from a single SONY HDC-8300 8K HDR camera, providing a wide view of the pitch. Other coverage was provided from 4K cameras.
BT Sport has led a number of innovations in the technical quality of its coverage. BT Sport Ultimate was the first service in the world to feature regular programming in a combination of 4K UHD, with HDR and Dolby Atmos sound.
Delivered over an IP network, it can offer the optimum experience, based on the capabilities of an individual display. The 8K demonstration is an extension of this approach.
Jamie Hindhaugh, the chief operating officer of BT Sport, said: “BT Sport has a rich history of leading the industry with broadcast innovation to provide our customers the best viewing experience in the UK.”
“Whether it’s last season’s launch of the world’s first regular high dynamic range service, BT Sport Ultimate, or, our world-leading remote production activity we’re constantly working to provide the best possible experience. Today’s broadcast in partnership with Samsung continues BT’s mission to take our viewers to the heart of sport and serve them the ultimate viewing experience.”
Samsung was the first company to offer 8K televisions in the United Kingdom, starting in 2018.
BT demonstrated 8K coverage of a rugby game to an invited audience at the IBC convention in Amsterdam in September 2019.
BT is expected to offer regular coverage of Premier League and Champions League matches in 8K later in 2020.