Some Ultra HD data from the 2020/2021 Olympics

One-third UHD production

The chart below represents the amount hours of content produced by OBS during the Tokyo Olympics. By comparison, all productions by HBS at the 2022 FIFA World Cup were Ultra HD; as a reference, our service tracker currently shows that 57% of tracked (Ultra HD services offer HDR, note that the service tracker looks at the distribution side, not the production side  As a reference, in the VOD world, we see 17% of large SVOD assets  (Netflix, Amazon) are in HDR format.  

UHD services

There were 25 services for the Beijing Olympics in Ultra HD, a much higher number than for the Rio’16 Olympics.

This represents 7% of the 300+ UHD deployed and tracked by the service tracker, so there is definitely room to grow.

Country OperatorNetworkResolutionHDR NGA
USComcast Cable  4KDolby VisionDolby Atmos
US AlticeCable  4KSDR  
US COX Cable  4KSDR  
USFuboTVOTT 4KDolby VisionDolby Atmos
FranceCanal PlusOTT4KDolby VisionDolby Atmos
UKVirgin Cable  4KHLG   
Germany HD+ DTH 4KHLG  
Spain Movistar IPTV 4KSDR  
australia OptusIPTV 4KSDR  
Malaysia Astro DTH 4KHLG   
Korea Skylife DTH 4K HDR10MPEG-H
Japan NHK DTH4K HLG   

This represents 7% of the 300+ UHD deployed and tracked by the service tracker, so there is room to grow.

Network analysis

The chart above shows the distribution technology for the 25 services carrying Ultra HD from the Beijing Olympics. As a comparison, the one below shows a similar distribution as in the service tracker; We see a similar (balanced) split across all types of network distribution.

Source: Ultra HD Forum Service Tracker

HLG dominated HDR in terms of distributors

HLG is the dominant HDR format used with 33%, with 42% SDR still very present, and 57% in the service tracker.

Note that in the service tracker, the proportion of SDR is constantly shrinking, as you can see below.

Source: Ultra HD Forum Service Tracker

A small minority could listen to the Olympics with NextGen Audio

This figure shows a 27%  NGA audio comparable to the 29% of the service tracker.

Some quick findings

Despite this data showing a substantial increase in coverage compared to the Rio’16 Olympics, it nevertheless represents a 30% decrease compared to the Euro’20 Ultra HD coverage (in terms of services). But as we’ve said in other analyses, this may be due to the greater Ultra HD penetration in Europe. Soccer is proving to be a superior global driver of Ultra HD technologies. Indeed, we will be covering the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where I can already say that over 50 active services were carrying Ultra HD.

There was a massive investment in UHD production for these games. Despite the limited reach, NHK broadcast in live 8K for the first time through its DTH service and several 8K experiments with Intel and Globo were made with OTT.

If we look at our key metrics: networks type, HDR and NGA, and compare them to the service tracker, we see a similar distribution network split, SDR is at a lower percentage, HLG is at a higher percentage, while NGA is at a lower percentage.

As soon as the dust settles, we’ll be able to compare in more detail with the 2022 World Cup and then with the Paris Olympics ’24. The latter is expected to set a new benchmark, with France TV announcing that its flagship France 2 channel will go Ultra HD for the occasion and stay that way after the games.

Our analysis shows that a critical mass of TVs is now ready to consume Ultra HD (at least one of HDR and/or 4K as well as NGA). The base of decoding devices (BYOD OTT, Pay TV STB) is still building up. Meanwhile, we still see 44% of services only offering SDR as disappointing but are encouraged that NGA seems ready to continue its growth.

Stay tuned for an update in newsletter 4 covering the 2022 FIFA World Cup in 2023.

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