UEFA Downgrades 4k Resolution: Euro 2024 and Champions League Final in 1080P HDR

UEFA Downgrades 4k Resolution: Euro 2024 and Champions League Final in 1080P HDR

By: CE Critic


UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) is making a significant shift in broadcast format for two major football (soccer) events this summer. Both the Euro 2024 tournament and Champions League Final will be produced in the 1080p HD HDR (High Dynamic Range) format. This is a major departure from the previous trend of increasing broadcast resolution seen in past tournaments.

History of Resolution Upgrades

  • Champions League Final broadcast in UHD since 2015.
  • Euro tournament broadcast in UHD since 2016.

Reasons for the Downgrade

  • Lack of Broadcaster Interest: Despite BT Sport's early adoption in Europe, few other broadcasters followed suit in offering 4K channels. The high costs associated with 4K equipment, infrastructure upgrades, and satellite transponder space didn't justify the investment given limited viewer demand and willingness to pay premium prices.
  • Visual Impact of HDR: Studies indicate some viewers prefer the improved contrast and detail offered by HD HDR compared to a resolution bump to 4K without HDR.
  • Warner Bros. Discovery Takeover: BT Sport, a consistent innovator in broadcast technology, was acquired by Warner Bros. Discovery in 2022. WBD could be prioritizing other areas of innovation.
  • Changing Viewer Habits: Younger audiences show increased engagement with short-form and vertical video content on social media, potentially less focused on traditional high-resolution broadcasts.

Technical Considerations: UHD vs. HD HDR

  • UHD Production Challenges: Live UHD production traditionally required complex signal routing and increased technical considerations for outside broadcast trucks.
  • HD HDR Benefits: The HD HDR format offers a visually compelling viewing experience and potentially simplifies production workflows.

The Future of Sports Broadcasting

  • Focus on Innovation: WBD, known through its TNT Sports brand, could be investing in augmented reality studios, real-time athlete data overlays, and enhanced digital/social media coverage rather than resolution upgrades.
  • Paris 2024 Olympics: The IOC's production company, OBS, will produce the 2024 Olympics in UHD HDR with 5.1.4 audio, driven in part by demand in Japan and from NBCU in the US.
  • High Frame Rate (HFR): Increased focus may be placed on HFR within the HD HDR specification, potentially targeting 120fps for smoother sports action capture. Backward compatibility with standard frame rate TVs remains a challenge.

Key Takeaways

  • UEFA's decision highlights the ongoing debate within the industry regarding the optimal balance of broadcast resolution and other technological advancements.
  • The lack of widespread 4K adoption by broadcasters and viewers is influencing production choices.
  • Sports broadcasters are actively exploring diverse innovations to enhance the overall viewer experience beyond just resolution upgrades.