Broadcasters Dialling Back From 4K To 1080P HD For Big Live Events

May 3, 2024 by Dave Haynes

UK-based AV Interactive has an interesting post up that’s not about digital signage, but offers some interesting insights about the consumer demands for 4K video – or more accurately the lack of them.

A couple of massive sporting events – the Champions League final and then the EURO 2024 football tournament in Germany will be produced in and broadcasted in 1080p HD high dynamic range (HDR), instead of 4K – the format used since 2015 for at least the Champions League final (for non footy fans, the biggest club level tournament on the planet).

The post suggests the downgrade, if you want to call it that, reflects a “growing shift away from 4K production for major sports broadcasts in the US, as well as the UK.”

According to an International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) report by writer Adrian Pennington, the main reason for the downgrading is a lack of interest from broadcasters and the rights holders of the respective competitions. There is also a question mark over whether 4K production is needed when many consumers are watching sport on social networks, even in a vertical format.

There are a few factors at play, but the big one is that broadcasting in 4K involves a lot of costly technology investment, and those like BT Sport who put the money in are not seeing a lot of subscriber interest in paying a premium for 4K, over 1080P. There’s also the question of whether the visual improvements offered by 4K are all that noticeable for consumers.

The argument certainly extends to digital signage, and there’s been a mild debate since 4K came along about whether screens typically seen from several feet away would benefit from being in 4K, or whether 1080P was more than sufficient. If nothing else, these sorts of decisions certainly raise more questions about 8K – something the big display companies stared showing at pro AV trade shows in recent years.

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