The BBC will broadcast all 29 of its World Cup matches in 4K HDR on iPlayer, but you’ll have to be on-the-ball if you want to catch them because the trial will only be available to a limited number of viewers for each match.
In order to ensure you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll need to log into the iPlayer app as the coverage of the match is starting. At that point you’ll see the stream available on the iPlayer home screen in a promo box labelled UHD.
But you’ll need to act quickly. The BBC is only making each stream available to “tens of thousands” of users at a time − a tiny fraction of the amount of people in the UK that will watch each game.
You will, of course, also need a compatible 4K HDR TV with the latest version of the iPlayer app. To see if yours is supported, check out the BBC’s iPlayer help pages.
Oh, and finally both your Wi-Fi and internet will have to be fast enough to support a UHD stream — but you knew that already right? The BBC recommends a 40mbit/s connection, but you’ll probably want something a little faster to avoid any interruptions. Consider plugging in a wired Ethernet cable for the best performance.
Early 4K days
It’s obviously not ideal that this is a limited trial, but it’s still really difficult to stream 4K content because of how much bandwidth it requires.
The BBC is taking big steps forward with each 4K trial it conducts. Last year it made the pre-recorded Blue Planet 2 available to stream in 4K for 30 days, but these live broadcasts will be a much bigger challenge.
The BBC still lags far behind its rival Sky Q, which has been broadcasting football matches regularly in 4K for almost two years now. However, Sky is in a very different position from the BBC. It’s a private company rather than a public broadcaster (so it has more control over its spending), and it controls its own satellite broadcast infrastructure (meaning less coordination with other broadcasters is required to implement new technologies).
t’ll be interesting to see how the technology compares, but this could give the BBC a huge edge over ITV, which it’s splitting World Cup 2018 coverage with.