Today is a significant day for those involved in the running of the MotoGP World Championship. It, with the British Grand Prix, marks the first time that a MotoGP race has been broadcast live in Ultra HD. The race action today, along with yesterday’s qualifying sessions are being broadcast live on BT Sport’s new Ultra HD channel.
Ultra HD is four times the resolution of normal HD, hence the name ‘4K resolution’. It means that there are two separate teams controlling and directing the action this weekend, in turn meaning that BT Sport have two commentary teams. Keith Huewen and Julian Ryder have been commentating as usual on the normal World Feed, with Toby Moody and James Haydon commentating on the 4K Ultra HD feed. It is the first time that Moody has been brought into the BT fold since they started their coverage last season.
Dorna say that the operation consists of 19 Ultra HD cameras, “including a High Speed, Super Slow Motion Camera and the world´s first live wireless 4K cameras”, which compares to 141 HD cameras that Dorna normally take to each round. The addition of Ultra HD means that MotoGP will have 160 cameras focussed on the action this weekend, a record number for the series. It is the world’s largest 4K outside broadcast to date.
It is too early to say whether 4K will be the next big thing, or whether it will turn into 3D and become a gimmick. I suspect it has a better chance of taking off than 3D. Readers may remember that Sky Sports showed F1 testing live in 3D in 2013, an experiment never to be repeated. Where 4K is concerned, BT Sport seem to be pushing it a lot at the moment, whereas Sky are not, hence why the MotoGP from Silverstone is being covered in 4K. Saying that, SkyQ is believed to be coming which will offer Ultra HD capability, but Sky have not officially confirmed this yet.
My lasting thought, however is that HD is not the norm yet, because providers are insistent on charging extra for customers to access content in HD. In my opinion, until HD becomes the norm, I’m afraid Ultra HD will not get off the starting grid, in this country at least. But, you have to start somewhere…