The BBC has announced plans to stream FA Cup football in Ultra High Definition and High Dynamic Range, marking the UK broadcaster’s latest test using these technologies.
This weekend’s FA Cup semi-final between Manchester City and Brighton and next month’s FA Cup Final will both be offered live in UHD and HDR for the first time, with the footage to be played at 50 frames per-second.
Viewers with compatible Ultra HD TVs and an Internet connection of at least 40Mbit per-second will be able to watch the UHD livestream via the BBC iPlayer app, or by pressing the red button on their remote control to access the iPlayer.
The BBC said that it will implement a cap of “tens of thousands of people” watching live at a time, due to the high bandwidth required and the experimental nature of the trial. It ran a similar ‘first-come, first-served’ UHD trial during last summer’s World Cup.
The broadcaster counted roughly 1.6 million live requests for its Ultra HD coverage of the World Cup and last summer’s Wimbledon tennis tournament combined. It also received roughly 1.4 million UHD requests for its nature series Dynasties on the iPlayer last year.
“Our Ultra HD and HDR programmes have been streamed millions of times on BBC iPlayer, making them some of the most popular Ultra HD programmes in the world, and BBC iPlayer is one of the only streaming services to offer them live in such high quality,” said Head of BBC iPlayer, Dan Taylor-Watt.
“It’s an excellent example of how we’re reinventing BBC iPlayer, making it an even better place for watching live events, and giving people the best programmes to enjoy in the best possible quality.”
The BBC’s UHD trials are designed to improve the quality of Ultra HD streaming, especially live streaming, to meet future demand. The broadcaster said that as the UK Internet evolves, it believes this will be the main way people watch Ultra HD programmes in the future.
BBC R&D’s Head of Broadcast and Connected Systems, Phil Layton, said: “Our research has already provided a highly effective way for free-to-air broadcasters to put HDR into their Ultra HD programmes, and we’re working on a range of projects to make Ultra HD even better for audiences and the industry.”