The BBC has announced what it describes as two “cutting-edge” trials to bring the FIFA World Cup live to audiences in Ultra HD and virtual reality.
“The BBC has brought major live broadcasting breakthroughs to UK audiences throughout the history of the World Cup,” commented Matthew Postgate, BBC Chief Technology & 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.”
These trials add to the comprehensive coverage the BBC has lined up for the World Cup across TV, Radio and Digital.
A new trial will see all 29 of BBC One’s World Cup matches available in Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) on BBC iPlayer – but there are a limited number of spaces available for each game.
As part of the BBC’s pioneering work streaming live Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range programmes over the Internet, this trial will be available to tens of thousands of people to watch on a first-come, first-served basis.
To watch the most life-like World Cup coverage the BBC has ever shown, audiences will need a compatible Ultra HD TV and a high speed Internet connection. The Ultra HD stream will be available from the BBC iPlayer home screen as soon as programme coverage begins until the trial is full for that match.
The BBC will use the Hybrid Log-Gamma version of HDR it invented with Japanese broadcaster, NHK. It provides improved picture quality not only to HDR Ultra HD devices, but to the vast majority of Standard Dynamic Range Ultra HD devices too.
The experience and data gathered from this trial will help the BBC to optimise UHD delivery in the future. The trial also helps the BBC and wider industry prepare for a time when delivering such large-scale events in such high quality, for larger audiences, over the open Internet is normal. The BBC sees an important distribution channel in the future.
The BBC’s first VR World Cup brings audiences live coverage of all 33 BBC matches from Russia through the dedicated BBC Sport VR – FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 app. It’s coming soon for free on Apple, Android, Gear VR, Oculus Go and PlayStation VR.
Anyone with a smartphone or compatible VR headset can open the app and find themselves inside their very own luxury private box in a Russian stadium. If there’s a game on, they can watch from the best seat in the ground by heading over to the box’s giant viewing window and looking out onto the pitch from their BBC Sport sofa.
From here, audiences can access a range of live match stats that pop-up from the virtual coffee table, or they can switch their view and choose to sit behind either one of the goals to get up-close to the action. And when there’s no game taking place, fans can watch a daily highlights package and other on-demand content on one of the virtual big screen TVs available in other areas of the private box.