The BBC and Sky will both offer coverage of the coronation of King Charles III in 4K ultra-high definition. The BBC will make its UHD pictures available online through the BBC iPlayer, while Sky will broadcast its coverage through Sky News and on its Sky Showcase channel. Coming 70 years after the live broadcast of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the coverage marks another milestone in television.
The coronation of the King and his Queen Consort on 6 May 2023 will be almost 70 years after the coronation of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June 1953. That was the first British coronation to be fully televised and watched by millions of people around the world.
At the time there was only one television channel in Britain, provided by the BBC, although commercial television was due to start two years later. The television coverage was in black and white and lacked the clarity of newsreel film, but the significance was that it could be seen live. It was reported that more people in Britain watched the coverage on television than listened on the radio, marking television as a mainstream medium. It is estimated that 20 million people watched the coronation with friends and family huddled around a small television set, with an average screen size of just 12 inches.
After a reign of nearly 70 years, the funeral of Queen on 19 September 2022 was watched by a peak of 28 million people in Britain, with an average audience of 26.20 million across numerous BBC and commercial television channels, making it one of the biggest television events in the country.
The coronation of King Charles III will be another landmark for television and will be captured in 4K ultra-high definition, which has four times the resolution of high definition, with high dynamic range offering improved shadow and highlight detail.
The BBC will only offer its UHD pictures through its online iPlayer service, available to viewers with a compatible display and fast broadband connection. Television coverage will also be available in high definition on BBC One, with a signed version on BBC Two, with audio description available through the Red Button. Viewers will also have the option to watch live without BBC commentary. There will be radio coverage across Radio 3, 4, 5 Live, and the World Service.
“The BBC is very proud to bring landmark events and major historical moments to audiences across the UK and beyond,” said its director general, Tim Davie. “We will be delivering the full glory of the Coronation with all the quality, ambition and excellence that our teams are globally renowned for.”
Not to be outdone, Sky will be offering broadcast coverage in UHD, uninterrupted by advertising, on the Sky Showcase channel and Sky News. Its stream will also be available around the world through the Sky News YouTube channel. John Ryley, Head of Sky News, said: “Whether unifying or polarising, the spectacle of the King’s Coronation is guaranteed to capture the world’s attention.”