UHD Coverage of the UEFA 2020 Football Championship

There are many ways to slice and dice a market, for example, whether to count affiliate networks or not. We focused here just on services that picked up a feed directly from the IBC and, as with our Service Tracker, that also have a recognizable commercial brand that viewers can interact with to watch the live sports. Measuring in this way, we have counted just over 20 UHD services provided worldwide. Please get in touch if you think we missed something.

Collecting this data was a collaborative project that used Twitter crowdsourcing, thanks to @UHD4K.

The growth of UHD coverage over four years (well, actually, five as the tournament was delayed by a year) is hard to gauge as only eight games were produced in “4K UHD” in 2016, and most of the broadcast services were experimental five years ago. However, the large proportion of “SDR-only” broadcasts in 2021 remains disappointing, showing that we still have some work for interoperability to be seamless enough for all operators to offer a full HDR  experience.

CountryChannelOperatorNetworkDynamic RangeAudioDetails
UKiPlayerBBCOTTHLGStereo 
ItalyRai 4KRaiDTHHLG Hotbird 13C, 13.0° E, freq 11.766 V, symbol 29900 – 3/4, encryption Nagravision
FrancebeIN SportsCanal+DTHHLG  
  Canal+, beINOTTSDR  
 TF1Free, Orange, BouyguesIPTVSDR  
 M6Orange, BouyguesIPTVSDR  
BeneluxNPO1 4K: ch999CanalDigitaal, TV VlaanderenDTHSDR Astra3 sat at 23.5° east
NLNPO1 4KKPN, ZiggoIPTV, CableHLG KPN: ZXV8001/VIP5202 STB;
Ziggo: MediaBox Next, channel 999
GermanyFussball 1 & 2 – myTeamTVMagenta TV (event channels)IPTVSDRDolby Digital Plus in E-AC-3Media Receiver 401/201/601 Sat, MagentaTV Box or Box Play; 
Channel 330-331
AustriaORF1 (ORF-TVthek)ORFOTTHDR10 Samsung TV, Android TV, Apple TV 4K, Amazon Fire TV 4K, Edge or Safari browser with HEVC support, 25 Mbps sustained
DenmarkV-SportViaplayCable, DTH, OTTSDRDolby Digital Plus in E-AC-3For OTT: Apple TV 4K or Chromecast Ultra required
NorwayTV2 PlayTV2OTTSDR TV2 share the rights with NRK and offer 50% of the matches in 4K SDR on OTT service TV2 Play
Sweden CMore PlayOTTSDR Requires Premium Plus package, >50Mbps and Apple TV or Chromecast Ultra 
FinlandYLE Areena appYLEOTTSDR Available on most Smart TVs, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku. 
Finland matches and finals only.
Poland TVPDTHHLGDolby Atmos 5.1.4 in AC-4DTT: DVB-T2/HEVC; DTH: Sat: Hotbird, 13.0° E, freq 10.719 V, symbol 27 500 – 3/4, encryption Nagravision
TurkeyTRT 4K UHDTRTDTHHLGDolby Digital Plus in E-AC-3Türksat 3A, 42.0°E, beam West 50-52, freq 10980 V, symbol 12500 – 3/4, DVB-S2, HEVC
MalaysiaAstro UHDAstroDTHHLGDolby Atmos 5.1.4 Measat 3, 91.5°E, freq 11142 V, symbol 30000 – 3/4 
Measat 3a , 91.4°E, freq 12316 V, encryption VideoGuard
SingaporeEuro 2020: Ch 141-142SingtelIPTVSDR? Two dedicated Euro 2020 event channels on Singtel TV are in HD. Only semi-finals and finals will be in 4K. Requires 4K STB.
Hong Kong Now EOTTSDR  
China CCTVDTHHLG  
China Migu VideoIPTVHDR Vivid Part of China Mobile
Japan WowowDTHSDR ISDB-S3
MENA BeIn DTHHLGDolby Atmos 5.1.4  

Unsurprisingly for a European event, most UHD carriers were in Europe, explaining, for example, the relatively high proportion of IPTV in the chart below, second only to DTH and OTT. We do not have the viewership breakdown for UHD, but as a reference point, the BBC noted that a whopping 40% of their broadcast viewership (all formats, not just UHD) was delivered in OTT. This can be compared with figures closer to 5% for major 2021 sporting events in the US, such as the Superbowl.

The following chart illustrates one of the pain points described in the other articles for this newsletter. On-demand platforms are now offering more and more HDR content, but it still seems a bit of a dark art for live events, and a (small) majority of operators chose to offer 4K SDR versions. One explanation is that pay-TV operators’ STBs are not all HDR-enabled. Hence, SDR, the lowest common denominator, has to be selected for a broadcast scenario. If we look at the statistics for OTT services, we see an even more significant gap with 75% of the services in SDR and only 25% in HDR. In an OTT environment, we would have thought that operators could offer SDR and HDR feeds, but due to the complexity and the cost, like for pay-TV, OTT operators are not widely supporting HDR.

As illustrated below, Next-Gen Audio (NGA) such as Dolby Atmos is moving beyond the trial and niche stages with live UHD events. Such impressive take-up shows that NGA will probably soon become a foundation layer technology for Ultra HD.

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