Leading the way with innovative sports distribution

3 min. read

Among the eye-catching gold medal performances at the inaugural European Championships, there will be one ‘first’ with added significance.

Among the eye-catching gold medal performances at the inaugural 2018 European Championships, there will be one ‘first’ with added significance for sports federations, media organizations and viewers alike: the first ever testing of live distribution of UHD content with both High Dynamic Range and High Frame Rate. For the Championships, Eurovision Media Services (EMS), will not only act as Host Broadcaster and distribute signals to rightsholders around the world, but will also carry some of the tests on its Eurovision Global Network.

The European Championships, jointly hosted in Berlin and Glasgow, is an innovative new multi-sport event bringing together a collection of the continent’s leading sports. The athletics competitions in Berlin will be the focus for the ground-breaking tests of next generation media formats.

While viewers have already been able to experience live sports events in higher resolution UHD at home, the addition of High Frame Rate (HFR) alongside High Dynamic Range (HDR) brings an unprecedented sharpness and sparkle to the images. When combined with Next Generation Audio, a truly immersive experience is created, putting the audience right at the heart of the action.

EMS, the business arm of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), is always looking for new and better ways to serve sports federations and media organizations around the world. These technology tests at the European Championships, in partnership with several EBU Members and technology providers, will provide a window on production and distribution techniques that will take media coverage of sports to a whole new level in the years ahead.

From 07 to 09 August in Berlin, four cameras will be used to capture selected track and field events at 100 frames per second, twice the frame rate of current state-of-the-art live broadcasts. The resolution will be 4K (2160p) and the HDR pictures will have a much wider, richer range of colours, with brighter whites and deeper darks. The events covered will include three of the men’s decathlon disciplines, the men’s discus final, the quarter-final of the women’s long jump and several track events.

The footage will be encoded live in HEVC. Alongside the 4K signal, two HD signals will be derived, one at 100 frames per second and one at 50 frames per second, with all three carried to the test sites on the Eurovision Global Network. Visitors to the European Championships Broadcast Operation Centre in Glasgow can view the images live from Berlin, while further distribution tests will be carried out at the Aosta Valley in Italy.

EMS is proud to support the EBU and its Members for these tests. EBU Members BBC, ZDF, France Télévisions, RAI and the IRT, the joint research centre of the German, Austrian and Swiss public service broadcasters, are all playing leading roles in the collaborative project, bringing innovation to the fore in European public service media.