BT Sport continues to build its experience in 8K ultra-high-definition coverage with the first live broadcast to the home of a top-tier sporting event in the United Kingdom. With 7680×4320 pixels, 8K has 4 times the spatial resolution of 4K and 16 times that of high-definition television. There will be those that argue that this is unnecessary although it may ultimately be inevitable.

The broadcast of the rugby match between Saracens and Bristol Bears tested outside broadcast workflows, playout and delivery of 8K coverage to the home.

It follows the first public live 8K sports broadcast of a football match between Arsenal and Olympiacos in 2020, which was delivered over a closed circuit at the statium.

The rugby match coverage was produced remotely with an 8K outside broadcast vehicle from EMG on site and two Sony 8K cameras with Fujinon lenses feeding Appear contribution encoders and decoders over links from BT Media and Broadcast.

“BT Sport continues to lead the industry with innovation that provides our customers with the best sports viewing experience in the UK,” said Jamie Hindhaugh, the chief operating officer of BT Sport.

“Empowering 8K viewing, as BT has proven, addresses demands for more immersive experiences that bring sports fans closer to the game with pin-sharp sports scenes,” said Elke Hungenaert of Synamedia, which provided distribution encoding services. “There’s no need to wait any longer – the future of streaming live sports successfully in 8K has officially arrived.”

There are no immediate plans to launch a consumer 8K service, but the capability is clearly coming. That said, resolution is only part of the picture. Two cameras and a replay server is really the bare minimum for match coverage, which would typically employ dozens of camera positions.

However, higher resolution cameras can deliver improved picture quality even to 4K screens. While spatial resolution is important, these cameras are also capable of capturing 120 frames per second, providing improved temporal resolution, which is also important for fast moving action.