ABSTRACT

The increasing availability of Ultra HD displays in the consumer market combined with the acquisition of exclusive European football television rights created the ideal opportunity for BT to launch Europe’s first live sports Ultra HD channel; BT Sport Ultra HD.

This ground breaking new channel went live on the 2nd August 2015 and since then has broadcast a wide range of sports, including Premier League and Champions League football, European and domestic rugby, PSA squash, NBA basketball and the world’s largest UHD OB to date, the British Moto GP from Silverstone.

The technology for live UHD production was in its infancy when BT started the project. The first productions used separate UHD and HD production units, but as the season developed increasing numbers of cameras have been shared. This paper will describe how new technical approaches and production values have enabled several broadcasts to be delivered using a single Outside Broadcast (OB) truck delivering all the UHD, HD and SD requirements.

This paper also describes the many innovations introduced in the end-to-end ecosystem for the capture and delivery of Ultra HD including contribution networking, playout technology, HEVC encoding, broadband distribution and Set Top Box.

INTRODUCTION

BT launched its IPTV service in 2006 offering a combination of On-Demand video and Digital Terrestrial Television. In 2012 BT TV added multicast delivered channels to the service providing High Definition (HD) Linear TV, over a Fibre-To-The-Cabinet (FTTC) access network, to BT Broadband customers. In June 2012 BT acquired broadcast rights to UK Premier League football and in less than 14 months, on the 1st August 2013, BT Sport went on-air.

On August 2nd 2015 BT launched Europe’s first live sports Ultra HD channel, BT Sport Ultra HD. The UHD channel was one of a set of, innovative and award winning, service enhancements that BT developed following the acquisition of the exclusive live broadcast rights to Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League, and UEFA Europa League football. Since its launch BT Sport Ultra HD has broadcast a wide range of sports, including Premier League and Champions League football, European and domestic rugby, PSA squash, NBA basketball and the world’s largest UHD outside broadcast to date, the British Moto GP from Silverstone.

The combination of the acquisition of exclusive European football television rights, the increasing availability of UHD displays in the consumer market, and the maturity of BT’s Fibre-To-The-Cabinet broadband service created the ideal opportunity to develop a UHD channel. BT Sport Ultra HD is only available over BT’s FTTC network to BT Customers. This paper will describe the end to end solution with a particular focus on the production of the channel.

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