BBC UHD Channel
The BBC is expected to start broadcasting in UHD with long-form coverage of the 2017 Wimbledon Tennis Championships. The BBC – usually with help from Sony – has trialled 4K at the All England Club since 2013. Last year, Wimbledon’s Number 1 Court saw tests and closed-circuit transmissions of 8K managed by Japan’s NHK public broadcaster.
NHK is already working with the BBC on its jointly-developed Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) technology which is backward compatible with today’s normal Standard Dynamic Range displays.
The BBC has also tested 4K workflow processes since 2014, as well as various data compression technologies, in readiness for transmission to begin.
The BBC, as part of its relationship with commercial arm BBC Worldwide, has been producing 4K programming for many years. This content usually comes from the BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol and mainly comprises quite stunning factual programming shot in – at least – 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR).
Since the BBC in the UK operates using public money, it must be much more cautious than its rivals. The BBC cannot justify spending a lot of money on a technology that the British public do not currently use and which current infrastructure and hardware does not support.
Any new UHD service from the BBC will almost certainly be restricted to satellite transmissions (Sky and Freesat). It seems doubtful that there will be much capacity on Freeview for BBC UHD, hat said, the BBC is committed to ‘Platform Neutrality’.
Ultra HD trial content on BBC iPlayer
Why doesn’t this content work on my UHD TV?
There are a number of reasons that this UHD content may not be compatible with all UHD TVs.
Firstly, the device may not support the encoding format the BBC is using at this time. This area is currently still becoming standardised and there is potential for TV manufacturers to update devices to make use of this format.
Secondly, UHD requires around 20Mb/s in internet bandwidth due to its high quality. This level of internet service is only available in certain areas of the UK.