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Sky tests 4K Ultra HD live football transmission: West Ham vs Stoke City

Sky has revealed details of a successful test transmission of a 4K Ultra HD broadcast at its west London studios. 

The West Ham vs Stoke City game on August 31 was filmed and broadcast in 4K thanks to special purpose-built trucks using Sony’s F55 cameras, the same cameras used by the BBC to film matches from this year’s Wimbledon tournament

The content was delivered using Sky’s end to end broadcast platform and was shown on a Sony 84-inch Ultra HD TV at its headquarters in Isleworth (pictured). 

Sky tests 4K Ultra HD live football transmission: West Ham vs Stoke City
Sky’s Isleworth HQ where its first live demo of 4K Ultra HD took place

Read our guide to 4K Ultra HD and 8K Super Hi VisionWhile Sky is saying this is the first Ultra HD broadcast, it’s not a product launch. It’s just a test to see how Sky’s satellites can handle 4K and how it’d look in your living room.

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports says unlike previous tests, the West Ham and Stoke game has been the closest thing yet to a how 4K broadcasts would play out:

“This was a fully-fledged live production, with multiple cameras and a full outside broadcast.  From the cameras to our OB [outside broadcasting] 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, Ultra HD sports broadcasts had either been recorded and played back ‘as live’, or distributed over closed-circuit networks, so this was real progress.”

Sky is working with the BBC and others to define broadcasts standard for 4K. The UK UHD Forum has been set up to help manufacturers, programme makers and assess the potential of the emerging format.
Francis added: “We saw enough in this test event to know that live sport in Ultra HD has real potential. The broadcast also demonstrated the capability of our satellite platform, which is ideally placed to continue supporting high-bandwidth video.”

The picture was broadcast in Ultra High Definition 2,160 x 3,840 – four times the resolution of current HD and at 50 frames per second. Sky’s test involved watching the results on a currently available set, the 84-inch Sony KD-84X9005 set. 

Despite the successful test, Sky hasn’t talked about a launch date for 4K Ultra HD. It’s thought that we could see an Ultra HD service later next year at the very earliest, but as tests are still ongoing it’s impossible to say for sure.  

When asked about a launch date, a Sky spokesperson said: “ As part of this research we have successfully broadcast a test event in Ultra HD. It’s yet another UK first for Sky. We will continue to test and learn so that we’re ready as and when the market for Ultra HD begins to develop.” 


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