The UK's BT Sport channel is starting to wade into the crystal-sharp world of 8K, after a Gallagher Premiership Rugby 7s match in Northampton was broadcast in the ultra-high resolution to attendees of the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam.
It wasn't a small task by any means, requiring collaboration with various 8K specialists and camera providers, including Blackmagic Design, AstroDesign, Appear TV, Fujinon, and Ikegami.
It marks the first live 8K broadcast from the UK sports channel, and while it certainly won't be the last, it will be a while before its a regular appearance on our TV screens.
BT Sport COO Jamie Hindhaugh was quoted in Digital TV Europe as saying the team was "begin[ning] to look to the benefit of 8K cameras," but that they would have to wait until "there are 8K TVs out there and people start to want it" before wider implementation.
Do we need 8K broadcasts?
BT Sport already does a lot of 4K sports coverage, serving the increasing numbers of 4K TV owners in a market where Ultra HD panels are the norm. When it comes to 8K, though, the demand isn't quite there yet.
Though more 8K sets are trickling into the market – such as the Samsung 55-inch 8K QLED – 8K panels are still limited to high-end sets with substantial price tags. The question also arises of whether sports matches really need benefit from 8K.
To an extent, all broadcasts would benefit from increased detail and clarity, especially when trying to make out specific players' features or the numbers on their jerseys.
More important for live sports, however, is how your TV implements motion control, ensuring that images retain their crisp edges even in times of fast action, such as sprinting down the pitch or tackling another player to the ground. Motion handling is something that often suffers in cheaper TVs – given the limited power of the panel's processor – but will function perfectly well in most good 4K TVs.
Be assured, then, that you don't need to wait for an 8K set to get a great picture when the rugby's on.
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