BT scores 8K first
April 6, 2022
By Colin Mann
BT Sport, working with a range of partners, has successfully delivered the UK’s first live 8K broadcast of a top-tier sporting event into the home.
BT Sport broadcast the Saracens v Bristol Bears Gallagher Premiership Rugby match on March 26th live in 8K into selected homes – building on its ongoing 8K leadership which in 2020 saw BT Sport and Samsung deliver the UK’s first public live 8K sports broadcast (the UEFA Europa League match between Arsenal and Olympiacos), making that match available in 8K to select fans inside the Emirates stadium.
The trial also enabled BT Sport to further explore OB and production workflows for live 8K broadcasts – testing the ability to run 8K HDR with match coverage, domestic presentation and playout including ad insertion.
The broadcast was supported by a range of partners:-
- Premiership Rugby
- BT Media & Broadcast provided contribution links from Tottenham to Stratford
- Sony Image Products and Solutions Europe who provided two UHC-8300 cameras and a PWS-4500 server to record the output
- Samsung Electronics UK provided its QN800 Neo QLED 8K Televisions to BT Sport Stratford Studios
- EMG UK provided the 8K truck and onsite facilities
- Fujinon who provided a 22:1 wide angle and 86:1 box lens
- Appear provided 8K contribution encoders and decoders integrated into the Vena network
- Synamedia provided the 8K distribution/streaming encoder and origin server
In recent years, BT Sport has led the way in 8K. In February 2020, BT Sport and Samsung screened the UK’s first public live 8K sports broadcast, with a screening of the UEFA Europa League match between Arsenal and Olympiacos (round of 32). BT Sport and Samsung collaborated to make history by delivering the broadcast live from the Emirates Stadium using a bespoke BT Sport 8K outside broadcast set up, delivered to Samsung QLED 8K TVs.
And in September 2019, at the IBC show in Amsterdam, by bringing together capabilities from BT Sport and Media & Broadcast, BT demonstrated one of the world’s first live 8K sports broadcasts showcasing the Gallagher Premiership Rugby 7s tournament into the RAI.
BT has a track record of industry-leading innovation in broadcast, with BT Sport operating from one of industry’s most sophisticated TV studios equipped with Samsung 8K TVs and in conjunction with BT’s Media & Broadcast division delivering world-firsts in recent years around Virtual Reality, Dolby Atmos sound, 4K UHD picture quality and remote production.
“BT Sport continues to lead the industry with innovation that provides our customers with the best sports viewing experience in the UK,” declared Jamie Hindhaugh, chief operating officer, BT Sport. “Whether it’s last season’s launch of the Matchday Experience features on our App, or our recent trials of 5G-enabled augmented reality viewing, we’re on a mission to take our viewers to the heart of sport.”
“This successful 8K HDR remote production showcases the capability of our new smart broadcast network, Vena – delivering live sport, in the highest possible quality and continuing BT’s track record of world-firsts,” added Faisal Mahomed, Director of BT Media & Broadcast.
“Samsung has been at the forefront of 8K technology and content in live sport, ever since the launch of its partnership with BT Sport in 2019,” commented Deep Halder, Head of TV/AV Retail & Content Services at Samsung Electronics UK. “The rapid rise in technology leading to the UK’s first live 8K broadcast of a top-tier sporting event into the home, makes for an exciting future for 8K sports content distribution – and Samsung’s 8K TV’s are ready to provide the best possible experience in this growing market.”
“At Sony, we’re constantly finding new ways to empower amazing storytelling and assist our customers to meet the demand for stunning contents’ experience,” said Norbert Paquet, Head of Live production Solutions at Sony Imaging Product & Solutions Europe. “We’ve been working since early days with BT Sport and our partners to deliver this 8K production workflow and are proud to enable this new milestone in the future of sports’ content creation.“
“Fujinon (Fujifilm) have been a partner of BT Sport since the very early days of 4K and look forward to continuing our support with our range of Box and ENG 8K lenses,” stated Ian O’Connor – UK General Sales Manager.
“At Appear, we are redefining video contribution in our X Platform,” claimed Thomas Bostrøm Jørgensen, CEO at Appear. “Our range of compact, robust and power-efficient solutions empower BT Sport with the ultimate in flexible technology. In partnership with BT Media & Broadcast, our solution ensured the delivery of these premier, 8K live video broadcasts without compromise.”
“ We were thrilled to join BT and the other partners in this, one of the world’s first successful live 8K HDR remote productions,” said Sean Mulhern, CTO of EMG UK. At EMG, we continue to innovate and explore remote production solutions with BT like these.”
“Empowering 8K viewing, as BT has proven, addresses demands for more immersive experiences that bring sports fans closer to the game with pin-sharp sports scenes,” noted Elke Hungenaert, Vice President, Product Management, Synamedia. “Our VIVID Compression advanced AI-based algorithms enable the 8K ecosystem with never-before-seen video quality and density at scale and cost-effectively today. There’s no need to wait any longer – the future of streaming live sports successfully in 8K has officially arrived.”