BT and Samsung pull off UK's first live 8K broadcast

Mike Wheatley

BT and Samsung are celebrating the successful completion of their first ever test broadcast of live 8K sports footage.


The test took place this week during Arsenal’s Europa League match against Greek outfit Olympiakos, with the live content streamed directly to three Samsung 8K QLED TVs set up inside the stadium.

The historic test was performed using a bespoke BT Sport 8K broadcast set, and filmed with a single Sony UHC8300 native 8K camera.

Technology news reporter John Archer was on hand to witness the demo at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, and said the footage was “spectacular”.

“Detail levels were clearly higher than even the best 4K live sport images I’ve seen, the whole sense of any image structure was gone, and the image just felt more real,” Archer said.

The successful demo is yet another first for BT, which has in recent years also carried out the first test broadcasts of Virtual Reality, Dolby Atmos sound, 4K UHD picture quality and remote production.

Last year the broadcaster launched BT Sport Ultimate, a new service that delivers regular programming in High Dynamic Range, 4K resolution and Dolby Atmos sound. Today’s 8K broadcast is obviously good news for BT Sport Ultimate, which is meant to deliver the best possible viewing experience available on each consumer’s specific device.

Archer reported that a BT Sport executive said the company intends to launch a new streaming app for Samsung 8K TVs soon, with the most likely release date being sometime during the 2020/2021 football season. Once it’s up and running, subscribers will be able to use the app to watch footy matches live in native 50Hz 8K with HDR.

Samsung added that because BT is still using the HEVC codec to compress its live streams, the future 8K BT Sport app could also work on the company’s older 8K televisions going back to 2018.

Of course, viewers will need to own an actual 8K device in order to enjoy the full benefit, and they’ll also need a very fast Internet connection with speeds of around 60 Mbps to avoid any irritating buffering.

“We have shown that we never rest when it comes to pursuing meaningful innovations that could supercharge the way people consume content,” said Samsung UK’s director of TV and AV, Dan Hastings. “It is great that we can add showing the first 8K broadcast to that list with BT Sport in 2020.”