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The test ran on the iPlayer beta app on compatible TVs, showing a live stream of a rugby league match in Ultra HD and HDR.

The BBC successfully broadcast live sport in 4K HDR quality on iPlayer over the weekend, raising hopes that the corporation is getting ready to launch regular 4K broadcasts. 

The live stream of the rugby league Challenge Cup fixture between York and Catalans was broadcast with little fanfare, but spotted by eagle-eyed rugby fans, like our own content editor, Andy Madden.

Quinn Cowper, an outside broadcast engineer, confirmed he was working on the trial, and that it was being broadcast using the Hybrid Log Gamma type of HDR.

blog post from the BBC, said: "On Sunday, we streamed a full Rugby League match between the York City Knights and Catalans Dragons live in UHD and High Dynamic Range on BBC iPlayer Beta. It’s the first time we’ve streamed a live event in such high quality." 

The BBC said UHD broadcasts still present "significant engineering challenges", so switching to live 4K streams on a regular basis won't be easy. "We’re always looking to provide our audiences with the best possible viewing experience, and live UHD could be the next step in that journey. We’re now looking at the results from this latest experiment to help us build our understanding for how we might be able to provide live events in UHD in the future."

Rumours have suggested that the BBC is working on 4K tests ahead of a full launch in time for the football World Cup, which starts on 14th June. A 4K World Cup on BBC iPlayer? Let's hope so - other countries have already confirmed their plans, after all, and with ITV not yet broadcasting on HD online, it looks down to the BBC for UK viewers.

The BBC has previously said its 4K content would be broadcast on iPlayer rather than on a conventional TV channel, with Phil Layton, the BBC's head of broadcast and connected systems, saying the on-demand service was "much more flexible" compared to a channel.

This was seemingly confirmed when the BBC offered Blue Planet II in 4K on iPlayer at the end of last year. To watch that, and any future 4K video, you'll need a TV that's compatible with the iPlayer beta app. You can see a list of devices that were compatible for the Blue Planet trial on the BBC website.

Fingers crossed for more 4K action on iPlayer in the coming weeks, ahead of a more permanent 4K offering from the BBC. In time for the World Cup would be ideal...

MORE: 

HLG: new HDR TV broadcast format explained

How to watch the World Cup online, on TV, in 4K, on mobile

Best 4K TVs 2018

6 things you should know about BBC iPlayer 4K broadcasts

OLED vs QLED: which is the best TV technology?

How to watch 4K video online and on TV

More after the break

Comments

Turnbacktime's picture

Unless you are a Samsung owner

Nice to see more 4K iPlayer content coming. But as an owner of a 2016 4K HDR Samsung I doubt I will be watching it. Told me they won’t introduce support for 4K iPlayer on my set.

Pathetic support. Could never recommend anyone buying a Sumasung TV. My next one won’t be.

AlexAtkinUK's picture

Why blame Samsung?  Its up to

Why blame Samsung?  Its up to the BBC what platforms they support and the list currently is TINY for 4K iPlayer.

Ironically they are supporting current-gen Panasonic TVs so when I bought a Panasonic UHD Bluray player I thought maybe it would get support.  WRONG.

Panasonic Bluray players app support is far less than my Samsung TV.  They don't even support 24fps mode for Netflix and Amazon Video won't even connect at all most of the time, constantly stalls saying "insufficient bandwidth" (not true) even when it does work.  Apparently everything is routed through Panasonic servers so is terribly unreliable.

Ultimately the ONLY good platforms for this sort of thing are Android and games consoles.  Yet the BBC choose a few latest model TVs to pioneer this new service on despite the fact pushing it to PS4 Pro/Xbox One X first would have meant a much larger audience and far less technical challenges, being only two hardware SKUs that are vastly easier to code for.