BBC to trial 4K Ultra HD broadcasts of live World Cup matches

The BBC will use Sony's 4K footage shot during the World Cup in Brazil to trial Ultra HD broadcast technologies.

Unfortunately, 4K UHD TV owners will not be able to see the trials. Instead, they will be closed, as the BBC is using this year's event as a dry run to better understand the challenges faced in broadcasting Ultra High Definition video over the air.

The Beeb's research and development labs will work closely with Arqiva to transport the live streams by satellite to the UK, where they will be decoded and distributed. Both existing broadcast and superfast broadband will be used to deliver video to compatible consumer UHD TVs in select BBC R&D facilities.

The trials will examine the use of the recently finalised HEVC codec for distribution over DTT and over the top IP networks. It will also help BBC R&D better understand the requirements and possibilities in broadcasting 4K live streams over the internet as well as terrestrially, through BBC iPlayer, for example.

READ: World Cup to be shot in 4K by Sony and England could feature

In addition, the BBC will use MPEG-DASH adaptive bitrate technologies for high quality delivery over IP networks, which could be utilised in the future.

The three matches to be trialled are being filmed by Sony in partnership with FIFA and even though the BBC trials will be closed to the public in the UK, both Sony and FIFA plan to use the footage in a film after the tournament is over.

The matches filmed will include one last 16 match, a semi-final and the World Cup final itself. All will be shot in the Maracanã stadium in Rio.