Sky Sports have always been ahead of the game when it comes to technology. they were the first broadcaster in the UK to transmit digitally and the first with HD and 3D. Last October they ran a test of shooting football in 4K at the Emirates Stadium in London using a couple of hand held cameras and they were impressed with the results, but there is much more to 4K transmission than just the cameras.
Last weekend they completed their first ever end to end transmission of a football match in Ultra High Definition, as they prefer to call it.. The Premiere League match between West Ham and Stoke at Upton Park was shot with a full UHD Outside Broadcast Unit, built by Sony and Telegenic. The OB truck uses Sony F55 cameras and two EVS UHD servers for replay and graphics. The programme was sent via satellite uplink back to Sky's headquarters where the match was seen live by a specially invited audience.
"UHD in live sport has real potential"
According to Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports "We saw enough in this test event to know that live sport in UHD has real potential. The broadcast also demonstrated the capability of our satellite platform, which is ideally placed to continue supporting high-bandwidth video. That said, we've still much more to learn, particularly about how to make full use of UHD from a live production perspective."
Sky will be continuing to test the potential of UHD production whilst keeping a close eye on the penetration of 4K TV's into the UK market. They have the infrastructure to deliver UHD transmissions, the only issue is the hardware that would be required to decode UHD in the home. It would probably require a completely new set top box with H265 capability, but that is what they had to do for the change from SD to HD. We would not be at all surprised if they were the first UK broadcaster to offer a 4K channel.