Author(s): Raghu Gopal
Virgin Media is delivering coverage of the prestigious Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament in 4K with high dynamic range (HDR).
HDR allows for video and still images with much greater brightness, contrast and better colour accuracy than previously available. All the matches taking place on Wimbledon's Centre Court are being shown in 4K HDR to viewers with a compatible TV and a high-speed Internet connection of at least 20 Mbps for a resolution of 2560 pixels, or 40 Mbps for the full experience in 3840 pixels. A wired connection from the TV to the home router affords the most consistent performance and the best viewing.
The content is available on the BBC iPlayer app built into Virgin Media's V6 set-top box. Unlike the BBC's terrestrial feed, Virgin Media's service supports both 4K and HDR, showing tennis lovers all the cross-court volleys at higher resolution and with greater contrast and colour brilliance than previously.
The BBC says its coverage from Wimbledon will better than ever this year, having expanded its trials of 4K content to allow viewers with compatible TVs to watch every match on Centre Court in 4K HDR on iPlayer and by pressing the red button on a remote control. And, for the first time, every match from all 18 courts will be available live and on-demand on BBC iPlayer and on the BBC Sport website and app.
In the market for TV subscription services, Virgin Media holds a big advantage over Sky as the latter doesn't offer its users HDR technology. Despite showing several Hollywood blockbusters and live sporting events in 4K, Sky Q has yet to introduce content in the HDR format. The satellite company has promised to make the feature available sometime in 2019 through an over-the-air software update to Sky Q boxes.
Virgin Media has established itself as a broadcast leader in 4K TV. In June 2019, it achieved a first in UK broadcasting by using the Hybrid Log-Gamma version of HDR on its V6 set-top box to screen matches from the Roland-Garros tennis tournament in 4K HDR on Eurosport.