UHD/HDR: Enabling Even More Brilliant Football Broadcasts

Collage UHR HDR

18 November 2020 – The introduction of the market-ready UHD/HDR technology brings even more brilliance to Bundesliga broadcasts. While UHD (Ultra High Definition) has been delivering high-resolution TV images, its combination with HDR (High Dynamic Range) further increases the dynamic range of the broadcast signal, enabling a much greater differentiation between the darkest and lightest pixels while expanding the colour gamut.

New production technology since the start of the 2020-21 Bundesliga season

Building on the basis of its existing UHD productions, the DFL subsidiary Sportcast has developed the new technology. In time for the launch of the 2020/21 Bundesliga season, Sportcast as the host broadcaster for Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, added production of UHD/HDR matches to its range of standard products. This in turn required an upgrade of its broadcasting hardware, including cameras, monitoring equipment, and signal converters. Sky is the league’s first media partner to deliver this unique new viewing experience to its subscribers. The fascination of the on-screen Bundesliga experience is getting more powerful, and viewers are sure to appreciate it.

DFL drives innovation in football broadcasting

UHD has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, or nearly 8.3 million dots. That is four times the resolution of Full-HD (High Definition).

8.3 million dotsequals UHD resolution approximately

More pixels means more image information, which translates to better rendition of detail and a sharper perceived image. The UHD/HDR (Ultra High Definition/High Dynamic Range) broadcasting standard improves the television experience in several impressive ways and was developed in response to the emergence of new TV technologies delivering increasing brightness levels. Over- and underexposed images, for example when direct sunlight hits the pitch, are eliminated almost entirely by the HDR technology. What is more, a higher frame rate and reduced motion blurring make rapid movements appear more natural. The wider colour gamut can render 75 per cent of all the colours the human eye can see. The technology enables colour-fast reproduction of highly saturated tones in particular.

Comprehensive preparation and testing phases

UHD/HDR was first presented to invited industry guests at SportsInnovation 2018, and has since been developed further following an intense and meticulous testing phase under live conditions at Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 stadiums during the last two seasons. So the decision of DFL, working closely with its national media partner Sky, to once again drive the transmission quality of football broadcasts is getting visible: Sky will broadcast a total of 68 live Bundesliga matches in Ultra HD with HDR during the 2020/21 season.

The UHD/HDR testing phase we ran successfully together with DFL’s media partner Sky has been a milestone for us as we endeavour to live up to our commitment to drive innovation in broadcasting.

Alexander Günther, Managing Director Sportcast GmbH

Which matches will be broadcast in UHD/HDR?

Two Bundesliga matches per Matchday will be produced in UHD/HDR. These are typically a Saturday afternoon match that starts at 15:30 plus the Saturday evening match at 18:30. To be able to receive the new broadcast technology, viewers need a Bundesliga subscription from the national media partner, Sky, the HD/UHD option, and a compatible UHD(4K)/HDR television set.

“With Sky Q our clients will enjoy the best-ever football experience. We are therefore extremely pleased that since the beginning of the new season we have been able to offer football fans the Bundesliga top matches in the UHD/HDR format as the ultimate standard, delivering the best viewing quality available. UHD/HDR takes viewers even closer to what is happening on the pitch, with a level of detail and realism that will have fans’ hearts beating faster.”

Alessandro Reitano, Senior Vice President Sports Production Sky Deutschland