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Will the 2018 World Cup in Russia be broadcast in 4K?

Thursday, April 26th 2018 by Steve McCaskill

The 2018 World Cup in Russia is less than 50 days away, promising a feast of football for fans around the world. If you’re not able to get to the tournament yourself, then there’s nothing better than taking a few weeks off work and watching as many as three matches a day on your TV.

The 2010 World Cup was arguably the moment that HD TV became mainstream with all matches broadcast live on the BBC and ITV on Sky and Freesat. But in the intervening eight years, picture technology has advanced even further.

Most new televisions sold now support 4K, or Ultra High Definition (UHD), resolutions while Netflix, Amazon, BT Sport, and Sky offer UHD content – including live Premier League football matches. However, will the World Cup be shown in 4K?

BBC iPlayer to show the World Cup in 4K

In short, yes. The BBC has announced that all 29 World Cup matches due to be shown on BBC One will also be broadcast in Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) on the iPlayer as part of a trial of its 4K technology.

But if you're the type of person who always misses kick-off then you might find you're out of luck – at least as far as watching in 4K goes. The BBC says its trial will be available to "tens of thousands" of people on a first-come, first-served basis.

The UHD stream will be available on the iPlayer home screen from when programme coverage begins to when the trial is full for that match.

You'll also need the right equipment – an Ultra HD TV for a start and a fast internet connection. The Beeb says you'll be able to watch 2560 pixel Ultra HD coverage with a connection of 20Mbps or above, but in order to get the full 3840 pixel Ultra HD you'll need at least 40Mbps. A full list of compatible TVs is available on the BBC iPlayer help page.

The BBC will be using the Hybrid Log-Gamma version of HDR it invented alongside Japanese broadcaster NHK, a technology that improves picture quality not only on HDR Ultra HD devices but also UHD TVs with Standard Dynamic Range.

The World Cup in VR

The streaming of matches in Ultra HD and HDR is one of two trials of viewing technology the BBC will be running throughout this summer's World Cup. The other will see live coverage of all 33 BBC matches from Russia made available in virtual reality.

You'll soob be able download the dedicated BBC Sport VR – FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 app for Apple or Android and it will also be available for the Gear VR, Oculus Go and PlayStation VR headsets.

Open the app and you'll find yourself in a virtual private box with the ability to watch live matches through the giant viewing window or catch up with highlights and other on-demand content on virtual big screen TVs dotted around the box.

What about ITV?

As for ITV, it seems unlikely. It has no UHD channel in place and has taken its time in even making HD content available on its ITV Hub online catch-up platform.

The tournament itself kicks off on 7 June and BBC and ITV will share all 64 matches between them. The BBC will show England’s first two matches against Tunisia and Panama, while ITV will broadcast the clash with Belgium and any potential second round match. The Beeb gets first picks on the quarter-finals and both channels will show the final live, as has been done in the past.

All will be in HD on Freeview, Freesat, Sky, BT TV, TalkTalk TV and Virgin Media.

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