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BBC UHD: internet first; Freeview "very difficult"

The BBC is planning to offer Ultra HD content via the iPlayer, ahead of other TV platforms.

But the distribution of BBC UHD content via digital terrestrial TV (Freeview) will be "very difficult", according to Andy King, Technology Controller at BBC Television, in an interview with Advanced Television.

Until SD/HD simulcasts end, it is not clear where the capacity for any BBC UHD channel on Freeview would come from. The BBC took part in a trial of UHD on terrestrial TV in 2014, using capacity now used for commercial Freeview broadcasts, to test broadcasting the football World Cup and Commonwealth Games in a regular broadcast environment.

The broadcaster has already been trialling UHD content on the iPlayer; the existance of the trial in 2015 confirmed by a now removed help page on the iPlayer website.

With the impending release of 4K production Planet Earth II, Mr King confirmed the BBC was working on how they would get UHD content to viewers, but that they were also taking an "internet first" strategic approach to distributing the BBC's first regular Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) content.

Before UHD is distributed on linear TV platforms, the broadcaster wants to make all of its existing regional services available in HD, as part of the next BBC Charter period, which is now due to start in April 2017.

In the meantime, to enable the reception of UHD programmes via the internet on compatible TVs, relevant support has been added to the specifications governing terrestrial/IP hybrid platform Freeview Play.


  1. UHD on Freeview is actually very easy, just close a load of the crap pointless channels which use a ton of bandwidth (between them all). Half of COM8 should be able to accomodate 1 UHD channel for example.

    1. Half of COM8 is currently empty. But the multiplex will close by 2020.
      It is not for the BBC to order the removal of channels some see as pointless in order to plant a UHD channel. It must use its own capacity for such projects and can't just take a chunk of bandwidth allocated to commercial operators.

  2. sorry, just do not understand why this is a thing. my relatives and I do not see the point of HD let alone 4k. we are happy with the freeview choice as it is.

    1. I think the main thing with HD as it's implemented on Freeview, is that it's a better format for users of large flatscreen TVs, as the resolution used for most standard definition channels looks very poor when enlarged.


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