Wimbledon tennis to be screened in 4K HDR by BBC for the first time

Wimbledon tennis to be screened in 4K HDR by the BBC for the first time despite technical glitches with the technology in streaming the World Cup

  • Allocation of the available slots will be done on a first-come-first served basis
  • Ultra HD trial on BBC iPlayer includes coverage of every Centre Court match
  • Broadcasters have been able to show sport coverage in 4K and VR for years 
  • Latest step by the BBC signals its intent to keep up with Sky Sports and BT Sport
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Wimbledon tennis will be screened in 4K resolution and high dynamic range colour (HDR) by the BBC for the first time in the history of the tournament.

It follows a trial of the sharp image quality during the World Cup, despite a number of complaints from viewers about technical glitches with the format.

Like the World Cup, the BBC will allocate available slots for the 4K stream – also known as Ultra HD or UHD  – on a first-come-first-served basis.

The stream will be delivered to customers via BBC iPlayer, as well as Sky Q set-top boxes and PS4 Pro consoles.

Broadcasters have been able to broadcast sports coverage in UHD for years, but this latest step by the BBC signals its intent to keep pace with rivals including Sky Sports and BT Sport.

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Wimbledon tennis is being screened in 4K resolution and high dynamic range colour (HDR) by the BBC for the first time. Pictured is last year’s winner, Spain’s Garbine Muguruza

The Ultra HD trial coverage on BBC iPlayer includes every match from Centre Court throughout the tournament, which starts on 2 July.

When a 4K stream is available for a match, the BBC will place a small maker in the corner of the screen during its coverage. 

The high-quality streams will be limited to ‘tens of thousands of people’ during the latest BBC trial.

The streams will be delivered over the internet to audiences with an Ultra HD and HDR (High Dynamic Range) compatible television and a high speed internet connection.

Wimbledon marks the latest major sporting tournament to receive the 4K treatment from the BBC, despite a mixed reception to its Ultra HD streams from the World Cup.

Viewers flooded social media with complaints about the new format. 

Brighton-based viewer Alan Goulding said buffering was a problem with his internet connection, which Goulding claims was a 200MB connection over Wi-Fi.

‘Picture seems very dull. Switching to HD for second half,’ Goulding tweeted. 

‘World Cup coverage in 4k UHD on the BBC iPlayer is amazing looking, shame the sound was ahead of the video meaning I had to turn it off though, heard the goal before I saw it’, moaned Twitter user Jonny Carswell.

Tottenham-based user Richard Easton said the delays meant he could not avoid spoilers.

‘BBC UHD World Cup coverage looks seriously peng but I can’t watch it with the minute plus delay on the live coverage’, he tweeted.

Others have also said the picture appears to dark and sounds cut in and out.


Brighton-based viewer Alan Goulding said that picture buffering was a problem with a Wi-fi 200MB connection


‘World Cup coverage in 4k UHD on the BBC iPlayer is amazing looking, shame the sound was ahead of the video meaning I had to turn it off though, heard the goal before I saw it’, wrote Twitter user Jonny Carswell

‘I have found the UHD transmission too dark. On normal TV (SD and HD) and iPlayer (HD) colours are vibrant’, wrote Twitter user Alloqui Strix.

The BBC will also make select matches available available to Sky Q customers in 4K.

A list of compatible TVs and set-top boxes is available online.

Support for PlayStation 4 Pro was also recently added, although the video game console will only stream coverage in 4K – not HDR.

‘Our Wimbledon trial on BBC iPlayer will be in stunning Ultra HD, HDR and use a wider range of colours, giving people the highest quality ever shown on the BBC,’ said Matthew Postgate, BBC chief technology officer.

‘Thousands of people are already enjoying live World Cup action in Ultra HD on BBC iPlayer this summer, and now tennis fans will have the chance to watch this prestigious tournament like never before,’ he said.


Tottenham-based user Richard Easton said the delays meant he could not avoid spoilers


Others have also said the picture appears to dark and sounds cut in and out. ‘I have found the UHD transmission too dark. On normal TV (SD and HD) and iPlayer (HD) colours are vibrant’, wrote Twitter user Alloqui Strix

HOW CAN VIEWERS WATCH WIMBLEDON IN 4K HDR?

The 2018 Wimbledon tennis tournament is being screened in 4K resolution and high dynamic range colour (HDR) by the BBC for the first time.

The Ultra HD trial coverage on BBC iPlayer includes every match from Centre Court throughout the tournament, which starts on 2 July.

The allocation of the available slots for the 4K stream – also known as Ultra HD – will be done on a first-come-first served basis.

The 4K stream will be marked in the corner of the BBC iPlayer screen as the coverage starts.

The service, which will be limited to ‘tens of thousands of people’, will be delivered freely over the internet to audiences with a UHD and HDR (High Dynamic Range) compatible television sets and a high speed internet connection.

The BBC also plans to make select matches available available to Sky Q customers in 4K.

The term 4K means the image contains four times as many pixels as a 1089p high definition picture.

The term 4K is used to describe a picture quality that contains four times as many pixels as a 1080p full HD quality.

Ultra High Definition sets produce a sharper picture as they have more pixels than standard High Definition TVs – 3,840 x 2160 pixels compared to 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. 

The BBC said: ‘For Ultra HD, audiences will need an internet connection of at least 40Mbit/s for the full 3840 pixel Ultra HD or 20Mbit/s for 2560 pixel Ultra HD.’

When it first launched, 4K content was expensive to produce and as a result, few production companies adopted the format.

However, in recent years, the medium has been picked up widely, with Amazon and Netflix filming almost all of their original films and series in 4K.

Modern TVs have greater contrast than they used to and watching games on HDR means viewers can see details in shadows.

WHAT WERE THE 4K HDR GLITCHES DURING THE WORLD CUP?

There has been mixed feedback from the BBC’s 4K HDR iPlayer World Cup live streams.

The most common complaints are that the video lags behind the audio with constant buffering.

The iPlayer stream also seems a little behind on live coverage so viewers are watching after everyone else — with some complaining of delays of more than a minute.

According to Trusted Reviews, who carried out a poll on 600 readers, 55 per cent have experienced streaming issues. 

‘One of its aims is to gather feedback so we can improve the experience for audiences, which we’re already doing based on what we’ve seen so far’, a BBC spokesperson said.  

The main reason people might be finding the coverage slow is that it requires extremely fast internet connection, which many people in the UK still do not have. 

Tottenham-based Twitter user Richard Easton said the delays mean he could not avoid spoilers.

‘BBC UHD World Cup coverage looks seriously peng but I can’t watch it with the minute plus delay on the live coverage’, he tweeted.

Others have also said the picture appears to dark and sounds cut in and out.

‘I have found the UHD transmission too dark. On normal TV (SD and HD) and iPlayer (HD) colours are vibrant’, wrote Twitter user Alloqui Strix.

The trial is still in its early stages and it appears the BBC coverage has got better as time has gone on.


It follows on from a trial of the technology in streaming the World Cup (pictured), despite viewers complaining about technical glitches

BBC One is showing 29 games over the two-week World Cup competition, with a limited number of viewers able to watch each match in the highest quality available.

‘Detail and sharpness have been hugely superior to the HD broadcast streams, making the action feel more immediate and much less tiring to watch,’ said John Archer, a TV reviewer for Forbes and Techradar.

‘Being able to see more of the pitch via the 4K camera is also a great feature for serious football fans.

‘The use of HDR has been quite subtle by comparison, but has still undoubtedly enhanced the sense of ‘being there’ that’s so important when you’re watching sport,’ he added.

The hardware needed to view 4K content has also become more accessible, with television sets plummeting in price from several thousands to several hundreds of pounds.  

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