U.K. gets first look at Ultra HD, aka 4K, during Sky soccer match broadcast

The next generation of high definition television--Ultra HD (UHD) or 4K--was given a shakeout run over the past weekend when Sky transmitted a Premier League soccer match between West Ham and Stoke City in the new format.

The transmission demonstrated new technology that promises four times the resolution of current HD and was used to develop the broadcast requirements to meet any future demand for Ultra HD, Sky executives told Broadband TV News.

The process was somewhat onerous--even for a sporting event that usually requires a bit more processing than the normal live TV. It started with BSkyB filming the match and transmitting it via satellite to a studio in West London where the content was directed live, produced and edited by Sky's in-house workers. The transmission used four Sony UHD cameras, two UHD EVS servers and was accomplished from a "purpose-built" broadcast truck, the story continued.

Even as consumer electronics manufacturers push forward with the standard--which is especially important in Japan--the costs continue to be a consideration for both broadcasters and consumers. in the U.K., Ericsson ran four synchronous full HD feeds over a Eutelsat transporter to its London headquarters where the match was shown on an 84-inch Sony UHD TV. The set alone, the story estimated, would run close to $39,000.

That was reason enough for Sky to emphasize that the transmission was nothing more than a test.

"As you'd expect from Sky, we are constantly experimenting and evaluating new technologies which may help our customers get more enjoynment from the TV they love," a Sky spokesperson told Broadband TV News. "As part of this research, we have successfully broadcast a test event in Ultra HD. It's yet another U.K. first for Sky. We will continue to test and learn so that we're ready as and when the market for Ultra HD begins to develop."

There is no longer an "if" associated with a UHD rollout; it's now "when" products will begin appearing in retail and consumers will begin tasting what format promoters claim is an immersive experience that will change the way television is watched. Unlike 3D, which really never took off in the consumer space, UHD is expected to gain traction because it is, fundamentally, the next best step in HD evolution. UHD is already being used in movies and theaters, so content is available.

If, as expected, the format gains traction next year, it could create problems for some service providers because it will consume more bandwidth and could require new equipment to transmit and receive signals.

For more:
- Broadband TV News carried this story

Related articles:
Comcast demo lights path to 4K Ultra HD
Samsung, LG team with Korean cable operators to drive sales of Ultra HD TVs
HBO CTO skeptical about future value of 3DTV, 4K
HEVC grabbing attention of vendors eyeing 4K

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