BBC to trial Ultra HD and HLG streaming on iPlayer

The BBC is trialling Ultra HD and HLG content streaming on the BBC iPlayer service. A key content provider, BBC is planning to add 4K Ultra HD content to be streamed on their service in future. It has begun with a 4 minute trail of Planet Earth II, in the highest quality it has ever broadcast. The footage will be in Ultra HD and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) and can be seen on a compatible connected TV until next year.

Premium services, such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, have introduced 4K quality streaming but that which requires broadband speeds of around 25Mbps. BT and Sky too have 4K services and Virgin Media will be joining in shortly. Facts like the high cost of the premium tier of the service and a set with 4K display compatibility are the limiting factors. However HDR (High Dynamic Range) is supposedly capable of giving colours at a range closer to what our eyes are capable of seeing. Again, only a few devices support it.

Head of broadcast and connected systems at BBC R&D, Phil Leyton, said it is a good test to springboard more 4K and HDR content from BBC. He explained that they wanted to show how Utra HD material can be available on BBC and to trigger manufacturers to get their products updated, making a pathway for future on-demand content of BBC. Although normal broadcast of 4K or HDR will take quite a while, this is a first step, he added. He suggested that the iPlayer app be downloaded to one’s TV and to check it over the week to see if the clip is available to watch.

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