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BBC testing 4K broadcasts during the World Cup, but not for Joe Public


The BBC has announced it will perform some of its first 4K broadcast trials during next week's World Cup, but members of the public won't be able to watch them

UHD TVs may be getting more affordable, and streaming services like Netflix have introduced 4K versions of TV shows, but we’re still waiting for 4K content to broadcast over the airwaves. The BBC is beginning to think about how we’ll get 4K in the home, with the announcement that it will trial 4K broadcasts during next month’s World Cup tournament.

Announced this morning on the official R&D blog, the BBC will be using three World Cup matches filmed in 4K and sent directly by satellite from Brazil to the UK. These signals will then be forwarded on to TVs using both traditional Digital terrestrial television (DTTV) signals and super-fast broadband streams over the internet.

The trial is primarily designed to test whether it will be possible to broadcast 4K using a hybrid of DTT and broadband technologies, but will also explore the benefits of the new High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) codec for encoding and compressing 4K streams to make them more manageable based on the country’s existing DTT infrastructure.

“BBC R&D has an outstanding track record as a catalyst for bringing the industry together and delivering the future of television to audiences,” BBC R&D controller Matthew Postgate said of the plans. “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 licence fee payers in the near-term.”

Unfortunately members of the public won’t be able to enjoy the footage, even if they have a 4K TV that could support it, as the signal will only be accessible through the BBC research and development lab. We’ll be waiting several years before 4K is beamed directly into the home, so for the time being you’ll have to stick to 4K upscaling or stick to watching House of Cards on Netflix.

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