4K for live sports: are we there yet?

4K for live sports: are we there yet?

… almost, but yes!

In the wake of 4K native content on OTT services, broadcasters can respond by making 4K/UHD a key part of their live sports offerings. And yet, although there have been a number of successful trials of events such as qualifiers for the Euros and the Super Bowl – and there are even trials now in 8K – the number of 4K/UHD sports events on your TV at home is still surprisingly low. This boils down to two primary challenges that are holding up progress:

Contribution infrastructure: while 4K cameras are already available to capture high quality content from the pitch, the traditional 1 Gbps circuits are still limiting 4K content to be transported from the camera to the broadcast studios alongside money-making HD feeds.

Distribution: the costs of upgrading infrastructure for 4K/UHD has been a real challenge, especially as monetisation of 4K/UHD services is still unquantified. It has, so far, prevented the distribution of 4K/UHD quality content at mass-market scale.

However, these challenges are becoming a thing of the past. One example is the recent 4K broadcast of Spain’s La Liga’s ‘El Clasico’between Barcelona and Real Madrid. In this 4K/UHD trial, the V-Nova’s PERSEUS™ technology-powered P.Link was used to contribute visually lossless full-frame low-latency 4K/UHD content from the stadium to the studio over existing 1 Gbps telco circuits. The same circuits were also used to deliver the necessary multi-feed HD services. The step-change in video compression efficiency that PERSEUS provides enabled the 4K/UHD feed to be distributed alongside regular programming without requiring additional bandwidth.

The coverage of ‘El Clasico’ showed that by contributing and delivering 4K/UHD content at HD bit-rates, PERSEUS makes 4K/UHD ready for primetime.

For big sports fans, this increase in quality comes with an added “bonus”: contesting the referee’s decision is about to become a lot more lifelike as the TV experience is closer than ever to being at the match.