Monday, September 2, 2013, 09:30
We keep a close eye on emerging technologies here at Sky. At the company that led the UK into digital, HD, mobile and 3D TV, we want to keep bringing our customers the innovations that improve the experience of watching TV.
That’s why, back in October last year we first experimented with Ultra HD – or 4k, as some people call it. Back then, we had just a couple of handheld Ultra HD cameras at a wet and windy Emirates Stadium for Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League tie with Olympiakos.
It was very much a test and learn exercise to better understand the potential of shooting live with four times the resolution of our current HD broadcasts. Looking back, some of the footage was a little rough around the edges, but we were encouraged by what we saw.
Fast forward to this weekend’s Premier League clash between West Ham and Stoke (above) and we notched up another Sky first. At Upton Park on Saturday we took our UHD research to a new level, becoming the first UK broadcaster to successfully complete a live broadcast.
Unlike our early efforts at Arsenal, this was a fully-fledged live production, with multiple cameras and a full outside broadcast. From the cameras to our OB truck and from our satellite platform to our broadcast operations centre in Isleworth, the entire match was played out as a genuinely live broadcast. Prior to this, UHD sports broadcasts had either been recorded and played back ‘as live’, or distributed over closed-circuit networks, so this was real progress.
We saw enough in this test event to know that live sport in UHD has real potential. The broadcast also demonstrated the capability of our satellite platform, which is ideally placed to continue supporting high-bandwidth video. That said, we’ve still much more to learn, particularly about how to make full use of UHD from a live production perspective.
While we continue our research and development, we are also keeping a close eye on how the wider market for UHD develops, particularly in relation to how quickly UHD TVs begin to entre UK homes. And as and when affordable UHD TVs are available, over the next few years, our early leadership will position us well.