BBC to Test UHD Broadcasts During World Cup

LONDON—BBC Research and Development says it will trial Ultra-High Definition (UHD) broadcasts during this year’s FIFA World Cup.

The closed trials will cover all of the three World Cup matches being produced in UHD by FIFA TV from the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro – one from the last 16, a quarter-final and the final – marking the first time live UHD coverage will have been delivered simultaneously over Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and Internet Protocol (IP) technologies to the home.

The live UHD streams will be transported from Brazil by satellite to the U.K. where they will be decoded and distributed, via existing broadcast and super-fast broadband infrastructure, to a number of compatible consumer UHD TV sets in selected R&D facilities.

BBC R&D says it will work closely with strategic research partner Arqiva, major consumer electronics vendors and technology providers to explore key areas of research in the delivery of live UHD content over broadcast and broadband networks. Areas of study include the potential of developing a hybrid broadcasting model of broadband and traditional broadcast to deliver UHD content, testing the viability of HEVC for distribution of UHD content over both DTT and OTT networks and using MPEG-DASH adaptive bitrate to provide consistent quality of service over IP networks.

“BBC R&D has an outstanding track record as a catalyst for bringing the industry together and delivering the future of television to audiences,” said Matthew Postgate, Controller, BBC R&D. “These trials are an excellent example of that tradition as a major technical achievement, such as distributing UHD TV over DTT and IP simultaneously from Rio, can only be made possible by close collaboration with a range of organizations. The trials will prove hugely valuable in furthering our understanding of UHD technology, and potential distribution models for the future, as well providing real benefits for license fee payers in the near-term.”

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.