BBC to stream majority of 2022 World Cup games in 4K HDR

Mike Wheatley

The BBC has confirmed that the “vast majority” of the 33 Qatar World Cup football matches it holds the rights to will be streamed in 4K HDR via the BBC iPlayer streaming application.


As with the Russia World Cup in 2018, the BBC’s 4K feeds will be exclusively available through the iPlayer, as opposed to its satellite or terrestrial broadcast channels, Forbes’ John Archer reported. Users will therefore be required to register to use the iPlayer and also own a suitable 4K TV set that supports HLG to benefit from the coverage.

Although these requirements caused a few headaches in 2018, Archer said they should pose little problem this time around as the vast majority of TVs sold in the U.K. in the past four years should be able to handle 4K HDR.

However, the experience won’t be all that smooth. The BBC’s iPlayer is notorious for streaming content with a lag of around one minute, compared to its live HD broadcasts. So viewers who happen to be watching England may well be disturbed their neighbor’s cheering when a goal is scored, just before it happens on their 4K stream.

“Some owners of relatively affordable HDR-capable TVs also reported in 2018 that the HDR could make games look very dark on their TVs, while the BBC’s system back then for adjusting playback quality based on a constant assessment of your broadband speeds also caused a few glitches for some users,” Archer said.

The good news is that this should be less of a problem now as TVs and Wi-Fi connection speeds have improved considerably since then. Four years ago, users needed a connection of 40 Mbps or faster to achieve the best quality with the iPlayer’s 4K streams, but improvements in compression technology should ensure viewers can get away with less nowadays.

All in all, Archer said the 4K HDR experience should be “greatly improved” compared to what it was four years ago. As a result, the event has the potential to become an “enjoyable and impressive showcase” for what 4K and HDR can bring to live sporting action.

For some reason the BBC hasn’t committed to showing every game it has the rights to broadcast in 4K HDR. However, it promised that the vast majority would be available in the superior high resolution format.

As for the ITV, once again it’s lagging behind. The broadcaster, which possesses the rights to all of the games the BBC doesn’t have, will not be showing any of those matches in 4K HDR through its new ITVX streaming service.

Unfortunately, fellow UK World Cup broadcaster ITV, which has the rights to live feeds of all the World Cup Games the BBC isn’t carrying, will still not be showing seemingly any of its games in 4K via the new ITVX streaming app.

The BBC will show multiple group games during the World Cup, along with three of the second round matches, two quarter-final ties, the first pick of the semi-final games and the final itself on December 18.