2018 Russia World Cup a stress test game for BBC 4K iPlayer

posted on Thursday, 31st May 2018 by Steve May

4K  Broadcast  HDR  VR  HLG 

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The BBC has confirmed that it will make all of its FIFA Russia World Cup games available in UHD HDR via iPlayer, and offer VR experiences for every BBC game too. The Ultra HD stream will be visible on the iPlayer home screen when coverage begins, and remain there until it's fully subscribed. Essentially, the BBC is using the World Cup as a stress test for its nacent live UHD service.

The confirmation comes after recent 4K trials of Rugby League and the FA Cup final.

The number of UHD streams will be limited, and available to viewers on a first come, first serve basis. The BBC says its trial will support tens of thousands of viewers.

For unfettered 4K, the Beeb is recommending a broadband speed of 40Mbps. There will be a fall-back stream for 20 Mbps connections, which will offer a better than HD resolution of 2560p. Adaptive bitrate technology to alter the resolution of the stream on the fly. The corporation will also offer HD in HDR, at 720p and 1080p resolutions. HLG Hybrid Log-gamma will be used, offering broadcast compatibility with non-HDR 4K sets. 

The BBC will also make available the same matches in VR, via the BBC Sport VR FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 app. Users will be able to view the games from a 'virtual private box', or from behind each goal, with stats and highlights packages on hand. The app will be available on PlayStation VR, Apple, Android, Gear VR and Oculus Go and PlayStation VR. The BBC recommends an internet connection of at least 10Mbps for its VR experience.

"The BBC has brought major live broadcasting breakthroughs to UK audiences throughout the history of the World Cup,” says Matthew Postgate, BBC Chief Technology and Product Officer. “From the very first tournament on TV in 1954 and England's finest hour in 1966, to the first colour World Cup in 1970 and Full HD in 2006. Now with these trials we're giving audiences yet another taste of the future."

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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