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BT & Samsung trial 8K live broadcast, teases 8K streaming service

28 Feb 2020 | Rasmus Larsen |

British broadcaster BT and Samsung trialed the UK's first live 8K broadcast during the Arsenal - Olympiakos match yesterday, reports Forbes. BT is planning to launch an 8K streaming service later.

First 8K live broadcast in the UK

The 8K trial broadcast was made available only to invited journalists inside Arsenal's Emirates stadium. It was shown on Samsung Q950R 8K TVs via either a 48Gb/s direct feed or a compressed 60Mb/s HEVC feed. - "Having being there to witness it in person, though, I can confirm that the main presentation feed looked spectacular," said Forbes' John Archer. "Detail levels were clearly higher than even the best 4K live sport images I’ve seen, the whole sense of any image structure was gone, and the image just felt more real." The 8K footage was shot using a Sony UHD8300 camera at 50 frames per second and with HDR, whereas close-up shots were upscaled from 4K. While John Archer was generally impressed with what he saw, he also pointed out that 50fps is not enough to avoid visible levels of motion blur in 8K. FlatpanelsHD made a similar observation recently while watching a clip from a movie that is currently being restored in 8K (24fps). - "I was reminded that even at 50Hz (never mind 24 or 30Hz) the extraordinary clarity 8K makes possible does make you feel quite aware of motion blur," he said.

BT, Samsung 8K live broadcast 82" Samsung 8K TV with BT's 8K feed. Picture credit: John Archer, Forbes

8K streaming service

At the event, BT said that it is planning to launch an 8K sports streaming service that will make football matches available in 8K50 with HDR via an app for Samsung 8K TVs. BT is reportedly considering using HEVC compression and a bitrate between 60 and 80 Mb/s, which would make the feed compatible with Samsung 8K TVs from late 2018 onwards as well as other 8K TVs. The broadcaster noted that it is also considering using the new AV1 video format, which would make the feed compatible only with 2020 8K TVs from Samsung and LG (or via a potential future set-top box with HDMI 2.1). - "BT Sport has a rich history of leading the industry with broadcast innovation to provide our customers the best viewing experience in the UK. Whether it’s last season’s launch of the world’s first regular high dynamic range service, BT Sport Ultimate, or, our world-leading remote production activity we’re constantly working to provide the best possible experience. Today’s broadcast in partnership with Samsung continues BT’s mission to take our viewers to the heart of sport and serve them the ultimate viewing experience," said Jamie Hindhaugh, COO, BT Sport. The broadcaster apparently hinted that its 8K streaming service may launch sometime during the 2020/2021 football season, but no firm date was announced. At this time, there is basically no 8K content available for 8K TVs. An 8K disc format is unlikely and most broadcasters have yet to transition to even Full HD. YouTube has a library of 8K videos but no current 8K TVs are equipped to stream the videos in 8K. Streaming service Rakuten had hoped to offer 8K movies in 2019 but it did not materialize. Other popular streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix have yet to announce plans to offer 8K content. - Source: Forbes, BT/Samsung

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